Sara Netanyahu to be Indicted for Misuse of Public Funds
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit will file an indictment against Sara Netanyahu and Ezra Saidoff, a former deputy director general of the Prime Minister's Office, for fraudulent use of public funds. Netanyahu is alleged to have spent approximately NIS 360,000 of taxpayer money for personal expenses, including up to NIS 25,000 shekels a month to have food delivered from A-list restaurants in Jerusalem.
The report also said that three other cases against Mrs. Netanyahu involving violating government hiring regulations would be closed. Police had investigated the prime minister's wife for hiring a family friend to work at their private residence in Caesarea home on Shabbat and holidays, waiters at the official Jerusalem residence and caretakers for her late father.
Police had suspected that Netanyahu had both hired the workers in violation of government regulations and paid them in excess of market value.
The Attorney General said the latter investigations had not unearthed sufficient evidence to warrant pressing charges.
The indictment spells out thousands of shekels in monthly expenditures for food deliveries – over 18,000 shekels in April 2011, 17,000 shekels in May 2011, 22,000 shekels in November 2011 and over 24,000 shekels in December 2011.
Hebrew-language Channel 2 said the meals were not intended to entertain foreign leaders.
The indictment alleges that Sara Netanyahu and Saidoff deliberately created the false impression that there was no official chef working at the residence when in fact there was a full-time employee in the position. This was done in order to allow the suspects to “sidestep the guidelines” by which, when there is no chef employed, the prime minister and his family are entitled to charge the state for food ordered to the residence.
Sara Netanyahu ordered staff at the residence not to tell outsiders that there were cooks employed in the residence, the draft indictment charges.
“In this manner, they fraudulently received hundreds of meals from restaurants and outside chefs worth some NIS 359,000 ($102,000),” the state prosecution said in a statement earlier Friday, adding that the
specific charges being considered were for “fraud under serious circumstances and breach of trust.”
“The decision [to indict] was made after the attorney general examined the case material and after he heard the positions of the relevant sources, including the recommendations of the state prosecution and the Jerusalem district prosecution to consider pressing charges,” a statement from the attorney general's office said.
Responding to the coming indictment and to his own mounting legal troubles, Netanyahu repeated his mantra that “the would be nothing because there was nothing.”
Friday, the prime minister listed on his Facebook page a formal response from his wife's legal team stressing the investigations that have been shelved. In addition, the Netanyahu posted a video highlighting his activities over the past week, including inaugurating a new train route to Carmiel, a new traffic interchange in southern Jerusalem and promoted his upcoming visit to South America.
An indictment was filed against Sara Netanyahu and Ezra Saidoff, a former deputy director general of the Prime Minister’s Office, for fraudulent use of public funds. Netanyahu is alleged to have spent approximately NIS 360,000 of taxpayer money for personal expenses, including up to NIS 25,000 shekels a month to have food delivered from A-list restaurants in Jerusalem. Photo Credit: Kobi Gideon/GPO