Sara Netanyahu charged with fraud

The Israeli Attorney General announced on Friday that he would be indicting Sara Netanyahu, the wife of the Israeli Prime Minister, on fraud charges.

Sara Netanyahu is alleged to have diverted a total of 360,000 NIS  (£78,000) from public funds to hire famous chefs and pay for take-away gourmet meals from top restaurants. The alleged offences occurred between 2010-2013 and she will be charged with fraud, aggravated fraud and breach of trust. Also indicted alongside Sara Netanyahu is Ezra Saidoff, a former deputy director general of the Prime Minister’s Office. He was a close associate of Mrs Netanyahu responsible for the management of the Prime Minister’s Residence and is suspected of being a major accessory to the offences.

The indictment reveals that the Prime Minister’s wife and Saidoff “conspired to create the appearance that there was no cook at the Prime Minister’s Residence and gave the employees there instructions to conceal the fact that there was. On at least 15 occasions, the  ‘absence’ of the cook was exploited in order to hire chefs to cook meals at the Prime Minister’s Residence for the family and their personal guests.”

The indictments are pending a hearing with the Attorney General, a courtesy usually reserved for senior politicians, which will likely be scheduled for later this year.

Alongside the indictment, the Attorney General closed several other case against the Prime Minister’s wife mostly due to insufficient evidence. This includes cases relating to the purchase of furniture for the Prime Minister’s Official Residence, which was then allegedly transferred to the Netanyahu’s private home, the hiring of Likud Party central committee member Avi Fahima as an electrician against official advice, and finally claiming them back from public funds the healthcare costs for her late father. The Netanyahu family dispute the allegations, and claim that their former housekeeper Meni Naftali instead committed the offences and is making false accusations in order to clear his own name.

Prime Minister Netanyahu defended his wife on his Facebook page saying: “The allegations against the Prime Minister’s wife are absurd and will prove to be false. Sara Netanyahu is a courageous and honest woman, and her actions have never been without merit. In addition to her weekly work as an educational psychologist and child care expert, she spends a great deal of time helping children with cancer, Holocaust survivors and lone soldiers.”

On Sunday, Sara Netanyahu released a statement saying: “I want to say thank you to the thousands of Israelis and people from around the world who support me. In good days and in less good days, your help and support give me strength to continue to do the real things that I do for all those who need the help that I try to give as much as I can.”

Later on Sunday she departed alongside the Prime Minister for a ten day visit to South America and the United States.

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