Police detain Lieberman's daughter

5 others also arrested in bribery, money laundering, fraud case against Israel Beiteinu head.

michal lieberman 248 88 (photo credit: Channel 10)
michal lieberman 248 88
(photo credit: Channel 10)
Police officers from the National Fraud Unit and the Lahav 433 anti-organized crime unit detained the daughter of Israel Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman, Michal, Lieberman's attorney Yoav Mani and five other suspects on Sunday. Police said the latest arrests were part of a two-and-a-half-year-long investigation into Lieberman, who is suspected of accepting a bribe via a consultancy firm registered by his daughter. Lieberman is also suspected of channeling funds into an overseas account, which detectives believe went to fund an election campaign. In addition to bribery, Lieberman is suspected of fraud, breach of faith and money laundering. He has been the subject of an on-and-off police investigation for a decade. "Parts of the establishment still see me as Yvette the Terrible,"Lieberman said Sunday evening during a campaign stop in Nazareth Illit in response to the probe. "I am glad that the tradition is continuing; an interrogation for every election campaign." The Israel Beiteinu Party accused the police of trying to sabotage Lieberman's candidacy. "If it weren't so serious, it would be funny. The Israeli public is smart enough to understand [the significance of] an investigation which drags out for so many years in silence, and which makes a noise two weeks before the elections, when trends point to an unequivocal strengthening of Lieberman," the statement said. The Israel Police said, however, that the investigation had to be put on hold for almost a year-and-a-half due to attempts by Lieberman's lawyer to prevent police from gaining access to documents seized in a previous raid. In April 2007, police seized documents from Lieberman's lawyer, Yoav Mani. That December a Tel Aviv magistrate ruled against Mani's request to prevent police from reviewing the documents. Mani had argued that the documents were protected by lawyer-client confidentiality. Mani then appealed to the Tel Aviv District Court but was rejected. In August 2008, the Supreme Court also turned down Mani's appeal, allowing police to examine the documents. On Sunday, officers searched the suspects' homes to look for more incriminating documents. In 1999, the state comptroller issued a report which mentioned election funding offenses allegedly committed by Israel Beiteinu. Following the report's release, police launched a probe in 2001 and investigated Lieberman. In May 2005, police handed the file to the state prosecution, but new material then came to light - partly from an overseas investigation - and Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz ordered police to reopen the file in April 2006. A year later, Lieberman was questioned under warning on suspicion that his party received a credit line of $1 million before the 1998 elections, the security for which allegedly came from Austrian-Jewish businessman Martin Schlaff. In another case police believe may have been related, Lieberman was allegedly hired by an Austrian bank which stood to lose a large sum of money because of a crisis in the Russian ruble. The development occurred in 1998, just after Lieberman resigned as director-general of the Prime Minister's Office under then-prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu. According to reports, the bank paid Lieberman $3 million for his intervention. Police believe Lieberman may have used alleged contacts with the Russian mafia to restabilize the ruble. They also believe he may have kept a large part of his payment from the Austrian bank in Cyprus and not brought it to Israel and declared it as income. Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.