Monday, October 26, 2020

Israeli PM Netanyahu faces possible new corruption probe over share dealings

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Binyamin Netanyahu could face a new corruption investigation after the Israeli authorities said they were investigating his share dealings.

According to police sources the attorney-general is waiting for information from the US government on shares the prime minister sold in 2010 before deciding whether to order an investigation.

In 2007, when he was leader of the opposition, Mr Netanyahu spent $600,000 on a 1.6 percent stake in Seadrift Coke, a steel company operating in the US that was controlled by his American cousin, Nathan Milikowsky. Three years later, when Seadrift was sold to another corporation, Mr Netanyahu, by then prime minister, sold his shares for $4.3 million.

When details of the deal emerged early last year both men denied wrongdoing. Mr Netanyahu said he had bought the shares at market value when he was not in an executive position.

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Over the past 14 months, the Israeli police have been carrying out a preliminary investigation to assess whether there may be evidence of fraudulent dealings between Mr Netanyahu and his cousin.

The attorney-general has delayed his decision on whether to order a full investigation because of three consecutive election campaigns.

Mr Netanyahu, who is already facing three charges of fraud and one of bribery in the Jerusalem district court, applied to a special civil service oversight committee to be allowed to raise funds for his legal fees.

As a public official he is not allowed to receive such help unless given special dispensation. He has previously been turned down twice but cited changed circumstances as he has now been formally indicted.

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As part of his request he was required to supply a statement of his assets, which include the profit he had made from the share deals.

He also admitted he had received $300,000 from his cousin to help him pay the legal fees.

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