SOURCE https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20171201-australian-billionaires-evidence-implicates-netanyahu-in-corruption-scandal/

December 1, 2017 at 4:05 pm

Israel Police were said to be pleased with Packer’s testimony, as it further cements the accusations against Netanyahu and his wife that the gifts were not given freely by friends, as the couple have alleged during questioning.

Australian businessman James Packer has confirmed that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu demanded gifts for himself and his wife in return for advancing Packer’s business interests, according to the Times of Israel.

The billionaire, who runs the Crown gaming empire and reportedly has a close relationship with Netanyahu, voluntarily attended an interview with the Australian Federal Police, after months of stalling, under the condition that his testimony would not be used against him, a police spokesman said today.

The questioning was the latest in a series of interviews conducted with prominent businessmen as part of an investigation into bribes allegedly received by the prime minister, dubbed Case 1000.

Israel Police were said to be pleased with Packer’s testimony, as it further cements the accusations against Netanyahu and his wife that the gifts were not given freely by friends, as the couple have alleged during questioning.

Israeli police have also questioned Packer’s business partner, Hollywood mogul Arnon Milchan, over the affair, who has reportedly testified that the prime minister explicitly requested expensive cigars, again contradicting Netanyahu’s claims.

Netanyahu was grilled by police last week for the sixth time in connection to Case 1,000 and Case 2000, in which he faces allegations of negotiating a deal for more favourable media coverage with Arnon Mozes, publisher of popular Hebrew-language newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth. He has denied wrongdoing in both cases.

Read: Corruption in Israel is not just an Israeli issue

The prime minister has also been questioned recently in regards to two other investigations: Case 3000, also known as the “submarine scandal”, albeit not as a suspect, and Case 4000, in which a close associate of Netanyahu is suspected of providing confidential information to Israel’s largest telecoms company.

This week, the Knesset added to the controversy when it passed, in a first vote, a law that would bar police from recommending whether charges should be filed against public officials. Critics have slammed the proposal as a transparent attempt to shield Netanyahu from further inquiry.

In response, Israeli police have temporarily stopped investigations into Netanyahu’s involvement in Case 2000 and 3000 to instead focus on the gift giving case before the bill comes into effect.

Netanyahu is not the first Israeli leader to face criminal investigation; former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was convicted of breach of trust and bribery in 2014, serving 16 months of a 27-month term, and Ariel Sharon was questioned while in office over allegations of bribery and campaign financing illegalities.

Israel frequently refers to itself as the “only democracy in the Middle East”, but this remains highly debateable as corruption scandals threaten to embroil the highest political authority in the country.


Protest Netanyahu 20,000

December 2, 2017

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – About 20,000 Israelis demonstrated in Tel Aviv on Saturday against government corruption and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who is under criminal investigation over allegations of abuse of office.

The demonstration was by far the largest of weekly anti-corruption protests sparked by corruption allegations against Netanyahu, who denies any wrongdoing.

The four-term leader is suspected of involvement in two cases. The first involves receiving gifts from wealthy businessmen and the second involves negotiating a deal with a newspaper owner for better coverage in return for curbs on a rival daily.

Saturday’s protest was prompted by a draft law expected to be ratified by parliament next week, which would bar police from publishing its findings in two investigations of Netanyahu.

A Reuters cameraman and Israeli media put the number of demonstrators at about 20,000. Police would not provide an official estimate.

Critics say the draft law is a blatant attempt to protect Netanyahu and keep the public in the dark about his investigation. Supporters of the legislation say it is meant to protect suspects’ rights.

Netanyahu has said he has no interest in promoting personal legislation but he has not ordered its two sponsors, close confidants in his Likud party, to withdraw the bill.

Netanyahu has described himself as a victim of a political witch hunt and said of the cases against him: “There will be nothing because there is nothing.”

If charged, he would come under heavy pressure to resign or could call an election to test whether he still had a mandate.


MAINSTREAM MEDIA SOURCE https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/dec/01/james-packer-quizzed-by-afp-over-israeli-pm-corruption-investigation

James Packer questioned by AFP over Israeli PM corruption investigation

Crown Resorts major shareholder voluntarily presents himself to AFP as a witness for Israeli authorities’ investigation
Billionaire casino mogul James Packer.

Billionaire James Packer has been questioned by police in Australia over a corruption investigation involving Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is suspected of receiving luxury gifts from wealthy supporters.

The Australian mogul, who runs the Crown gaming empire and reportedly has a close relationship with Netanyahu, voluntarily attended an interview with the Australian federal police, a police spokesman said on Friday, without specifying when it took place.

“Mr Packer participated in the interview on a voluntary basis as a witness for an investigation being conducted by Israeli authorities,” the spokesman said.

Packer, who recently split up with American singer Mariah Carey, was not suspected of criminal conduct in either Israel or Australia, he added.

Netanyahu has so far been questioned six times over two alleged cases of corruption.

One of those whom he is accused of accepting gifts from is Israeli businessman and Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan, a Packer business partner who reportedly sent boxes of expensive cigars and other items worth tens of thousands of dollars.

Israeli media has said police were looking at whether Packer split the cost of gifts with Milchan.

The second affair over which Netanyahu has faced police questioning involves suspicions he sought a secret deal for favourable coverage with the publisher of top-selling Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot.

Netanyahu has consistently denied any wrongdoing and says he has been the target of a campaign by political opponents.


SOURCE https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20170830-israel-questions-pms-billionaire-friend-over-corruption-charges/

Israel questions PM’s billionaire friend over corruption charges

Image of billionaire businessman, Len Blavatnik [GCC Business Council/Facebook]