NGO to High Court: Here is how AG flopped letting PM off in Stock Affair

Israeli workers hang a large billboard with a picture Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as part of a protest of business owners against the Coronavirus Restrictions, November 12, 2020. (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH 90)
Israeli workers hang a large billboard with a picture Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as part of a protest of business owners against the Coronavirus Restrictions, November 12, 2020.
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH 90)
The Movement for the Quality of Government in Israel has finally engaged in a withering and detailed counterattack on Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit’s decision to close the Stock Affair charges against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
In a legal brief to the High Court of Justice late Thursday, which has already held one hearing on the issue, the NGO highlighted publicly available evidence of potential criminal intent by Netanyahu showing that he should have been criminally questioned.
In mid-October, Mandelblit announced he was closing the Stocks Affair without ever having declared Netanyahu a criminal suspect, much the same way that he closed off any allegations against the prime minister in Case 3000, the Submarine Affair.
Netanyahu was questioned as a neutral witness in Case 3000, but was not exposed to the same kind of aggressive questioning to unmask inconsistencies that he received in the three cases he is about to stand trial for in January.
A major point that the Movement took aim at was Mandelblit’s argument that he had no way to prove Netanyahu had any criminal intent, which meant there was also no basis to criminally question him.
In the NGO’s legal brief, it flagged a public statement that Netanyahu made about his cousin Natan Milikovsky and the latter’s business interests.
Netanyahu said that the company that he and his cousin both invested in was, “a company with fantastic technological potential, but was being managed disastrously. My cousin identified this – he is a genius.”
According to the brief, this shows that Netanyahu was well-versed about Milikovsky’s involvement in the company and by extension took actions to help Milikovsky’s business interests in exchange for his cousin helping him achieve an NIS 16 million profit through the company.
Even these arguments would not lead to convicting Netanyahu in the Submarine and Stock Affairs per se, since the connections between the companies in the Stock Affair Case and the Submarine Affair case can be argued to be remote and not terribly significant.
But evidence that Netanyahu was aware of how much Milikovsky had to gain through their joint business interests would seem to have justified a criminal interrogation of Netanyahu – all the NGO is pushing for at this stage.
Regarding this issue, The Jerusalem Post has learned that a major reason Mandelblit did not go for more in the Stock Affair case was his simple judgment that neither Netanyahu, nor Milikovsky, nor the prime minister’s other cousin who is involved, Dan Shimron, would crack to give him anything that would stick.
But as the NGO points out, there was no way for Mandelblit to know this for sure absent criminally questioning the trio over the issue.
The NGO also emphasized that State Comptroller Joseph Shapira had referred the Stock Affair to Mandelblit out of criminal suspicions when the prime minister suddenly disclosed the earlier NIS 16 million in profits which he had failed to report to the comptroller years earlier.
Mandelblit has deemphasized the sides of the case relating to reports to the state comptroller.
Moreover, the NGO said that Mandelblit had taken a conservative view of interpreting the statute of limitations for aspects of the charges, when a more aggressive interpretation could have kept certain charges alive for prosecution.
In the Stocks Affair, Netanyahu benefited by NIS 16 million from a stock deal with Milikovsky between the years 2007-2010, allegedly without properly reporting the gain to the State Comptroller’s Office.
Critics have gone further and said there was even a connection between Milikovsky’s business dealings and Case 3000 that could prove a direct connection between Netanyahu and the Submarine Affair’s bribery scheme.
But both the police and Deputy State Attorney Liat Ben-Ari believed that the connection between Netanyahu and Milikovsky as relatives as well as the 13 years that had passed made an investigation inadvisable.
Mandelblit accepted this recommendation in closing the case. He argued that even the charges he might have probed Netanyahu for had expired in terms of the statute of limitations.
Mandelblit also repudiated that the Stock Affair or any new evidence recently brought forth by the NGO, including damning affidavits from multiple top defense ministry officials about Netanyahu’s conduct in the Submarine Affair, could justify treating Netanyahu as a suspect in Case 3000.