Police investigators are set to question Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for a fourth time on Monday, as part of the ongoing corruption investigations into the Israeli premier.
One investigation, dubbed Case 1000, has the Lahav 433 anti-corruption unit are probing whether Netanyahu’s accepting of expensive gifts from businessmen, and then taking actions on their behalf, amounts to an illegal conflict of interest.
Case 1000 is one of two ongoing corruption investigations into the prime minister and his family, who have firmly denied any wrongdoing in any of the cases.
The latest round of questioning on Monday afternoon will be conducted by Lahav unit commander Brig. Gen. Koresh Bar Nur at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, Channel 2 reported.
Last week, Lahav officers complained their inquiry has been repeatedly held up by Netanyahu’s frequent travels abroad. In recent weeks the prime minister has visited the United Kingdom, United States, Singapore and Australia, and on Thursday, will be traveling to Russia.
On Friday, Channel 2 said police investigators are also having a difficult time setting up interviews with two key persons in the investigations, namely Israeli Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan, who allegedly provided Netanyahu and his wife Sara with expensive cigars and champagne valued at hundreds of thousands of shekels, and Australian businessman, James Packer, who is said to have paid for expensive meals and accommodation for the Netanyahus’ son Yair.
According to unnamed sources quoted recently by Channel 2, Netanyahu told police that he did not know anything about bottles of champagne supposedly given to his wife, and said that he bought most of the cigars in cash from a “relative.”
But Milchan and his personal assistant, as well as other associates of the Hollywood producer, have told police investigators the items were bought at the request of the Netanyahus.
The detectives, Channel 2 reported, have receipts and concrete evidence showing that the bubbly, cigars and some pieces of jewelry were allegedly transferred to the Netanyahu family in what is described as a “systematic” manner.
On Friday, police said the Case 1000 investigation would likely lead to a recommendation to indict Netanyahu. Officials said they were looking at two options: accusing the premier of breach of trust only, or adding the more serious charge of accepting a bribe.
Netanyahu swung back at police and in a statement released by his office, chastised the police for indicating that a recommendation to indict was likely before the investigation is completed, but then asking for more interviews.
“What is there more to investigate if they indicated that they will recommend an indictment? This is what happens when pre-conceived notions clash with the facts. Like I’ve said before: ‘There will be nothing because there is nothing,’” Netanyahu said in the statement.
The prime minister is also being investigated in a second case, known as Case 2000, which involves alleged negotiations with the publisher of the Yedioth Aharonoth daily, Arnon Mozes, and focuses on the prime minister’s supposed promise to advance legislation to hobble the Sheldon Adelson-controlled Israel Hayom paper in exchange for more favorable coverage from Yedioth.