World News

Israeli PM Netanyahu's Wife Reportedly Charged With Fraud For Gourmet Dining

Israeli PM Netanyahu's Wife Reportedly Charged With Fraud For Gourmet Dining

A former deputy director of the official residence was also charged.

According to the indictment, between 2010 and 2013 the Prime Minister's wife ordered a total of 350,000 shekels (nearly $100,000 U.S. dollars) worth of gourmet meals from various restaurants to the Prime Minister's Residence, a direct violation that bars outside meals being brought when a cook is employed at the residence.

It was not immediately clear when her trial would begin.

If convicted, she could face up to five years behind bars.

The indictment says Sara Netanyahu secretly arranged for a house cleaner on the government payroll to fill in as the home health aide for her aged father in 2011 when the regular aide, whom the Netanyahus paid privately, was on vacation.

A statement from the attorney general's office last September said: "In this way, hundreds of meals from restaurants and chefs were fraudulently received in the order of 359,000 shekels".

"There was no fraud and no breach of trust or accepting bribes or any crime at all", they added.

More news: Turkish patrols in Manbij offer hope for homecoming

The charges are the culmination of years of investigation into Sara Netanyahu's official expenses.

Prime Minister Netanyahu also faces several police investigations into alleged corruption. The following week, the US withdrew from the worldwide nuclear deal with Iran, a move that was warmly welcomed by Netanyahu.

But Thursday's indictment provided a fresh reminder that Netanyahu has not put his legal troubles behind him. He described Sara as "the power behind the throne".

He was questioned over his alleged dealings with the country's largest telecommunication company in one of three corruption cases weighing on his political future. Moreover, he said Netanyahu was not aware of the regulation so there was no criminal intent.

Case 2000 involves a suspected illicit quid pro quo deal between Netanyahu and Yedioth Ahronoth publisher Arnon Mozes that would have seen the prime minister weaken a rival daily, the Sheldon Adelson-backed Israel Hayom, in return for more favorable coverage from Yedioth.

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit made a decision to accept the recommendation of the State Prosecutor's Office and rejected the arguments of Mrs. Netanyahu's lawyers in favor of dropping the case.