Netanyahu's Wife Charged With Fraud, Breach of Trust

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and his wife Sara Netanyahu / Getty
June 21, 2018

Israeli prosecutors on Thursday charged the wife of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with graft, fraud, and breach of trust.

Sara Netanyahu is accused of misusing public funds by fraudulently ordering over $100,000 worth of meals to the prime minister's residence when there was a full-time chef on staff, the Associated Press reportedIf convicted, she could face a maximum sentence of five years in prison. It is unclear when the trial will begin.

In the indictment, the Justice Ministry said that Sara Netanyahu acted "to circumvent the rules and conditions" governing the official residence "in order to fraudulently obtain state funding for various expenses for the accused and her family that were not supposed to be financed in this manner."

Some Israeli newspapers have dubbed the case the Prepared Food AffairProsecutors allege that from 2010-2013, Netanyahu and Ezra Seidoff, the deputy director-general of the Prime Minister's Office at the time, falsely claimed that the Prime Minister's Residence did not employ a cook. They are accused of fraudulently received funds from the state for hundreds of food orders.

Netanyahu has previously faced allegations of abusive behavior and living extravagantly, the AP noted. In 2016, a court awarded a former caretaker of the Prime Minister's Residence about $43,000 after he accused Netanyahu of verbal and emotional abuse.

Prime Minister Netanyahu is not directly implicated in the current case, but he is being investigated for other allegations of corruption. Israeli police have questioned him about claims that he promoted regulations worth hundreds of millions of dollars to benefit Bezeq, a major Israeli telecommunications company, in exchange for positive media coverage on Bezeq's news site Walla!

The prime minister has said the accusations against him and his wife are part of a media witch hunt.

He is not expected to resign in response to his wife's indictment, although the Jerusalem Post reported that he could face charges for bribery or breach of public trust next year for his involvement in the Bezeq-Walla! affair.

The charges against Sara Netanyahu come after the prime minister has enjoyed several political successes in recent months, including the Trump administration's move of the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and its withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal.