Court proceedings this week confirm police are investigating Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for fraud, bribery and breach of trust.
Police mentioned the investigation in a gag order to block reporting on negotiations between prosecutors and Netanyahu’s former chief of staff, who will testify against the prime minister, Bloomberg reported. Police have two separate investigations that involve Netanyahu, the Guardian reported.
Thursday’s court filings mark the first police disclosure of crimes Netanyahu is suspected of committing. Police have probed his family for possible corruption since at least the beginning of this year.
But some in Israel now speculate Netanyahu could soon face an indictment. Local media report police are investigating claims that Netanyahu worked with an Israeli newspaper to combat another publication.
One investigation dubbed by Israeli police as “File 1000,” reportedly concerns claims Netanhayu improperly accepted lavish gifts from wealthy supporters and businessmen, including Australian billionaire James Packer and Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan.
The second investigation, “File 2000,” reportedly concerns Netanyahu’s alleged attempts to strike a deal with publisher Arnon Mozes of the Yediot Ahronot newspaper group to promote legislation to weaken Yediot’s main competitor in exchange for more favorable coverage of Netanyahu by Yediot.
His chief of staff, Ari Harow, will likely escape a prison sentence in another breach of trust case, because of his deal with prosecutors to testify against Netanyahu.
Scandals have long dogged Netanyahu over his lavish tastes and opponents have portrayed him as being out of touch with the struggles of average Israelis, report AP.
Netanyahu’s office has repeatedly denied wrongdoing over the investigations, portraying the accusations as a witch hunt against him and his family by a hostile media opposed to his hard-line political views.
Netanyahu has said the investigations are politically motivated and called them “background noise” in a post to his Facebook page.