Attorney-General authorizes Netanyahu to take loan from millionaire associate

The state comptroller approved a loan under market conditions.

Avichay Mandelblit attends Ayelet Shaked's goodbye party. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Avichay Mandelblit attends Ayelet Shaked's goodbye party.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday that he has approved his request to take a loan from millionaire and close associate Spencer Partridge after a thorough examination ruled that no conflict of interests was found.

It was also ruled that Partridge has virtually no affiliation with Israel whatsoever.
Mandelblit made the announcement following a decision by State Comptroller Matanyahu Engelman, who examined Netanyahu’s request and found that he will be allowed to receive a loan from Partridge if it is taken in accordance with the market conditions and if, following the review of the attorney-general, it becomes clear that there is no conflict of interests between Netanyahu and Partridge.
After the agreement was made that the terms of the loan would confirm to market conditions and Netanyahu would not receive any far-reaching benefit, the attorney-general had expert Dina Zilber investigate whether a conflict of interest existed between the prime minster and Partridge.
During the probe, Partridge provided a report on his assets and investments in Israel. After finding that he had almost no affiliation with the country and that his investments in Israel were minor, the attorney-general authorized the loan.
Partridge bought half of Netanyahu’s parents’ home from his brother Ido for NIS 8.4 million, according to a 2016 report by Haaretz. He was later investigated in the probe of Case 1000. In the case, he had confessed to buying Netanyahu suits valued at thousands of shekels, but that later, Netanyahu’s cousin and businessman Nathan Milikowsky returned the money to him.
Partridge is chief executive officer of PNE, which looks to be “a global provider of customer solutions in our markets,” according to its website.
Former prime minister and Democratic Union founder Ehud Barak took to Twitter to criticize the attorney-general’s decision. “Partridge was investigated in Case 1000,” he wrote. “He bought by [Netanyahu’s] request half of his parents’ home, while [Netanyahu] was prime minister.
"A loan is taken from the bank,” he added. “And that is where it is returned to. Will [Netanyahu] return the money to Partridge?”
Barak concluded by saying that “Mandelblit is folding again. It’s a shame.”
The previous State Comptroller Joseph Shapira rejected Netanyahu’s request for the approval of a loan three times, most recently in June. Netanyahu lashed out, saying that he was being treated unequally in contrast to other ministers in the Knesset, but the State Comptroller Committee corrected him, stating that those who received loans did so after having legal troubles that caused them to resign their posts. Once they resigned, they no longer had any conflicts of interests.
Netanyahu, at the time, refused to give the committee his financial details, claiming that the committee would leak it to the media.
Maariv contributed to this story.