British tycoon named in Bibi gifts probe
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.