Middle East

Benjamin Netanyahu: What are the corruption allegations?

File photo of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (24 June 2018) Image copyright AFP

Israel's Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has informed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he intends to indict him on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust in connection with three cases known as 1,000, 2,000 and 4,000, pending a final hearing.

Mr Netanyahu has denied any wrongdoing and said he is a victim of a political "witch-hunt" aimed at influencing April's closely contested general election.

A date for the final hearing, at which the prime minister and his lawyers will be able to argue against the allegations, has not yet been set.

Case 1,000

Mr Mandelblit is considering whether to charge the prime minister with fraud and breach of trust in this case, which concerns the prime minister's relationship with two businessmen - Arnon Milchan, an Israeli Hollywood film producer, and James Packer, an Australian billionaire.

Mr Netanyahu is alleged to have "received various high-value benefits, including the frequent and continuous supply of expensive goods, while at the same time undertaking actions favourable to Mr Milchan", according to the attorney general's office.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mr Netanyahu (R) has insisted he only received tokens of friendship from Arnon Milchan

It said the benefits received between 2006 and 2016, mainly cigars and bottles of champagne, were worth 956,800 shekels ($264,100; £199,200).

Mr Netanyahu has insisted they were merely tokens of friendship and that he did not act inappropriately in exchange for them.

Mr Milchan and Mr Packer are not facing any charges, but like the prime minister they have previously denied any wrongdoing.

Case 2,000

The attorney general's office said this concerns meetings that Mr Netanyahu conducted with Arnon Mozes, a businessman and the controlling shareholder of the Yedioth Ahronoth media group, which publishes a leading Israeli newspaper.

"During these meetings, the two discussed positive changes in the press coverage by Mr Mozes' media group regarding Mr Netanyahu, and possible action to promote a legislative bill that would have operated to reduce the financial damage created to Mr Mozes' own newspaper by a rival newspaper, Yisrael Hayom," the attorney general's office said.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Like the prime minister, Arnon Mozes has denied any wrongdoing

Mr Mandelblit is considering whether to charge Mr Netanyahu with fraud and breach of trust in this case. He also intends to charge Mr Mozes with offering to bribe the prime minister, pending a final hearing.

Both men have previously denied any wrongdoing, and said they did not intend to promote the matters discussed in their meetings.

Mr Netanyahu has said the legislation concerning Israel Hayom never passed, and that he dissolved his governing coalition in 2015 because of his opposition to it.

Case 4,000

Mr Mandelblit is considering whether to charge Mr Netanyahu with bribery, fraud and breach of trust in this case, which concerns what the attorney general's office said was "an illegal arrangement between Mr Netanyahu and Saul Elovitch, owner of the news and media website Walla".

Mr Netanyahu also held the post of communications minister from 2014 to 2017. Mr Elovitch is the controlling shareholder in Israel's biggest telecommunications company, Bezeq.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Shaul Elovitch was arrested in February 2018 in connection with the case

"It is alleged that Mr Elovitch acted to significantly and substantively alter press coverage published on the [Walla] website so as to favour Mr Netanyahu," the attorney general's office said. "Under this arrangement, Mr Netanyahu in return exercised his authorities of office so as to benefit Mr Elovitch and his businesses."

The attorney general intends to charge Mr Elovitch with bribery, obstruction of justice, witness tampering, money laundering and reporting offences according to securities law, pending a final hearing.

Both Mr Netanyahu and Mr Elovitch have previously denied any wrongdoing.

Mr Netanyahu has insisted he received nothing from Mr Elovitch and that Walla's coverage of him has been negative. He has said experts supported the regulatory decisions that benefited Bezeq.

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