x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Lieberman threatens to step down

Police say they have enough evidence to charge Avigdor Lieberman with accepting bribes, fraud, money laundering and other offences.

Israel's foreign minister has promised to step down if he is charged after police recommended he be indicted for a string of alleged corruption offences. Police say they have enough evidence to charge Avigdor Lieberman with accepting bribes, fraud, money laundering and other offences. The country's attorney general must now decide whether to indict him, and that could take months. Speaking at a press conference he called to respond to the police recommendation, which was announced on Sunday, Mr Lieberman said he did nothing wrong.

"If I had to do it again I would do precisely the same thing," he said. Mr Lieberman said he doubted he would be charged, but if he is, "there is no doubt that I will step down at that moment". The police investigation centred on millions of dollars that allegedly reached Mr Lieberman through fictitious companies he set up. Police say the investigation began in 2006 and covered events as far back as 2000. Police say Mr Lieberman faces a combined maximum sentence of 31 years in prison.

Mr Lieberman became foreign minister in March after his ultranationalist Yisrael Beitenu Party took third place in a general election. The party has drawn criticism for positions widely seen as discriminatory toward Israel's Arab minority. *AP