Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife Sara Netanyahu has been indicted on “systematic fraud” charges over the alleged misuse of hundreds of thousands of dollars of public funds.
Sara Netanyahu was charged along with Ezra Saidoff, a former deputy director general of the Prime Minister’s Office, after a criminal investigation by the police national fraud squad.
Haaretz reports: Sara Netanyahu was indicted on Thursday for alleged “systematic fraud” involving hundreds of thousands of shekels in connection with meal expenses incurred at the Prime Minister’s Residence
The two are charged in an indictment filed at the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court with aggravated fraudulent receiving of an item or items, fraud and breach of trust. Saidoff was also charged with falsification by a public servant.
According to a draft of the indictment, Sara Netanyahu instructed staff at the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem to order meals consumed at the residence worth a total of 350,000 shekels ($96,000) from gourmet restaurants between 2010 and 2013 in violation of rules barring the residence from ordering meals from the outside during periods when the residence had a cook on its staff.
Investigators in the case gathered evidence that purportedly shows that the Israel prime minister’s wife ordered that the employment of cook at the residence be concealed and that she was aware that ordering meals from the outside for the residence when it employed a cook was a violation of the rules.
In July 2015, a probe was initiated, based on the state comptroller’s report concerning the Netanyahu households; its findings were turned over for criminal investigation by the police national fraud squad.
The investigation looked into a series of scandals, including public funding for at least 15 privately catered meals while forging the number of their participants, residency cleaner who were paid by the State but instead was retained as a live-in nurse for Sara Netanyahu’s father, and the case of the Likud member electrician hired to work in the prime minister’s official residence in Jerusalem and their home in Caesarea, despite the prohibition on hiring a Likud activist.
In September 2017, Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit announced he would file an indictment against Ezra Saidoff and Sara Netanyahu pending a hearing.
At the same time, he announced he would close most of the suspicions against Netanyahu due to lack of evidence proving she was aware of the fraud and forgery.
Saidoff, on the other hand, was to stand trial for the charges removed from Netanyahu, including the private catering, forging the number of participants, expenses for waiters, and the electrician. However, in January a hearing was held for Sara Netanyahu. Since then, negotiations for a plea deal have been underway.
The indictment of the Israel prime minister’s wife followed unsuccessful attempts to reach a resolution of the matter with prosecutors when Sara Netanyahu refused to agree to pay the residence for the value of the meals and to admit to the allegations against her.