Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was grilled by police investigators for more than three hours at his official residence last night over allegations he improperly accepted gifts from billionaire supporters.
Mr Netanyahu has repeatedly denied wrongdoing, but the involvement of the national fraud squad indicated questions raised about him are considered serious enough to merit an investigation. Police said Mr Netanyahu was questioned « under caution », a term signalling anything he said could be used as evidence against him.
Investigators also looked at suspicions of campaign finance irregularities and double billing for travel expenses.
Mr Netanyahu has denied what he calls « baseless » reports about the investigation.
« We’ve been paying attention to reports in the media, we are hearing the celebratory mood and the atmosphere in the television studios and the corridors of the opposition, and I would like to tell them, stop with the celebrations, don’t rush, » he told a meeting of lawmakers from his Likud Party earlier yesterday. « There won’t be anything because there is nothing. »
The newspaper ‘Haaretz’ said billionaire Ronald Lauder, a long-time friend of Mr Netanyahu, was linked to the affair. Channel 10 TV has reported that Netanyahu’s oldest son, Yair, accepted free trips and other gifts from Australian billionaire James Packer.