Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 19 September 2019

Sara Netanyahu cuts plea deal in catering fraud case

Wife of Israeli Prime Minister will pay around $15,000 (Dh 55,098) in fines

Sara Netanyahu, the wife of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has been accused of fraud. AFP
Sara Netanyahu, the wife of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has been accused of fraud. AFP

Sara Netanyahu, the wife of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has accepted a plea bargain related to accusations that she misused roughly $100,000 in public funds.

After being indicted for fraud and breach of trust last year, Mrs Netanyahu was accused by prosecutors of concealing that a chef was on the government payroll in order to charge the Israeli state for hundreds of catered meals from expensive restaurants between 2010 and 2013, according to the New York Times.

Initially, prosecutors estimated that Mrs Netanyahu had done this with almost $100,000 in state funds, but they cut a deal with the Israeli leader’s wife that halved the accused amount to approximately $50,000.

Mrs Netanyahu admitted to trickery, a lighter charge indicating that she took advantage of an individual’s error. She now has to pay $12,500 in restitution and roughly $2,800 in fines.

Her husband is also dealing with scandals of his own. Mr Netanyahu has been accused of bribery, fraud and breach of trust, with the Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit refusing on Thursday to delay a court hearing over the corruption charges.

Bribery charges carry a sentence of up to a decade and/or a fine, while fraud and breach of trust could mean a prison sentence of up to three years. Mr Netanyahu denies any wrongdoing, saying he is a victim of a “witch-hunt” by the media and the country’s left-wing parties. He is reportedly seeking legislation in the new parliament that would result in his being granted immunity.

Many thought the accusations would scupper his chances of getting re-elected in the national elections in Israel in April. Despite looking like he would win the election, he failed to form a coalition so called a new election at the end of last month.

Updated: June 13, 2019 09:52 PM

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