British ty­coon named in Bibi gifts probe

The Jewish Chronicle - - WORLD NEWS - BY ANSHEL PFEFFER

IN­VES­TI­GA­TIONS INTO the af­fairs of Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Netanyahu have be­come bogged down in a swamp of con­flict­ing tes­ti­monies.

As po­lice try to es­tab­lish a pat­tern of cor­rup­tion as the foun­da­tion of an in­dict­ment, new names of wealthy friends of the Netanyahu fam­ily are be­ing in­ves­ti­gated as hav­ing given them al­legedly il­le­gal gifts.

The lat­est name re­ported by the Is­raeli me­dia is of Fin­nish-British-Is­raeli busi­ness­man and phi­lan­thropist, Poju Zablu­dow­icz, who is known to be close to the Ne­tanyahus. It is un­clear what Mr Zablu­dow­icz is al­leged to have given the Prime Min­is­ter or mem­bers of his fam­ily.

At this stage, the main fig­ure in the case re­mains Is­raeli film pro­ducer A rn on Milchan who has given po­lice de­tailed lists of ci­gars, cham­pagne and jewellery he gave Ben­jamin and Sara Netanyahu. In their own sep­a­rate ques­tion­ing by the po­lice, the Ne­tanyahus claimed that Mr Milchan had given most of the gifts to Mrs Netanyahu and that her hus­band was un­aware of all of them. Mr Netanyahu also claimed that the re­ports of his hav­ing re­ceived from Mr Milchan tens of thou­sands dol­lars’ worth of Cuban ci­gars were ex­ag­ger­ated and that he had bought many of his ci­gars him­self, us­ing cash re­ceived from a wealthy rel­a­tive.

Mean­while, the lat­est crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion is the most po­ten­tially ex­plo­sive. File 3000 deals with al­le­ga­tions of bribery re­lat­ing to the pur­chase of sub­marines and other war­ships for the Is­raeli Navy from a Ger­man ship­yard.

While Mr Netanyahu is not a sus­pect in this case, his per­sonal at­tor­ney David Shim­ron is; he was the lawyer of the Is­raeli rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the ship­yard.

Other sus­pects in­clude Avriel Bar Yosef, a for­mer se­nior naval of­fi­cer ap­pointed last year by the Prime Min­is­ter as head of the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil, though he never as­sumed the po­si­tion, and for­mer Navy com­man­der Ad­mi­ral Eliezer Marom. Mr Netanyahu claims to have no knowl­edge of any pay­ments made to the sus­pects but he was deeply in­volved in the con­tro­ver­sial de­ci­sion to pur­chase new sub­marines.

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