Israeli PM Netanyahu's wife charged with fraud, Justice Ministry says

Sara Netanyahu indicted for falsely charging state $100k for meals

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's wife was indicted Thursday for alleged "systematic fraud", according to Haaretz.

Mandelblit filed an indictment against the prime minister's wife for fraudulently charging the state for gourmet meals.

The Israeli premier's wife further directed the residency workers to hide the employment of a cook "so that this won't be found out by the treasury and the office manager", according to the indictment. The prosecution alleges that the prime minister's wife ordered that the cook be listed at the residence as a maintenance staff person.

Sara Netanyahu has long faced allegations of abusive behaviour and living extravagantly in a manner out of touch with the general public. Other former employees have accused her of mistreatment, charges the Netanyahus have vehemently denied.

A pre-indictment hearing in January, when Netanyahu's lawyers asked Mandelblit to reverse his preliminary decision in September 2017 to indict her, also had failed to sway him, though Mandelblit issued a statement at the time that he "had an open mind" to their arguments.

The prime minister dismissed the investigation past year, arguing it was a preoccupation with unimportant issues.

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Cohen has said that if the charges only related to NIS 30,000-NIS 40,000 at most, they could be dropped as relating to an oversight.

The move represents the latest legal headache for leader Netanyahu and his family, as the authorities investigate the combative premier over allegations of corruption in a string of eye-catching cases.

According to a source for Sara Netanyahu's defence team quoted by the Israeli website Ynet, she claimed to have had "no awareness she may have been committing criminal offences", and blamed officials in the household who advised her.

Israeli media reported previous year that Sara Netanyahu was expected to be indicted.

Netanyahu is suspected of accepting lavish gifts from billionaire friends, and promising to promote legislation to help a major Israeli newspaper against its free rival in exchange for favourable coverage.

The Prime Minister is alleged to have awarded regulatory favours to Bezeq Telecom Israel in return for favourable coverage on a news site the company's owner controls, Israel Radio reported.

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