The allegations against the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s family over misuse of state funds were further fueled after an 8-year-old transcript was brought to light recently.
The transcripts were from a recording of the conversation between a former Netanyahu family confidant and the PM’s top legal adviser at the time, in which the two discuss how the premier’s wife, Sara Netanyahu, would take suitcases of dirty laundry on state trips for dry cleaning, grossly misusing public funds.
The conversation was recorded by former media adviser to the PM, Nir Hefetz, who recently turned state witness, in a bid to avoid jail time, as corruption allegations engulf the Netanyahu family.
In the 2010 recording, Hefetz can be heard discussing the Israeli PM’s wife’s lavish lifestyle could land Netanyahu in trouble, with then top legal adviser Shlomit Barnea Farago.
However, Netanyahu has dismissed the reports of the alleged misappropriations as “false gossip that has no connection with the truth.”
During the recorded conversation, Barnea Farago described how the Israeli premier’s wife would take suitcases full of dirty clothes with her to foreign trips and then send them out for dry cleaning at the hotels she stayed at, all with the money paid by public funds.
“That’s misuse of public money, to bring laundry that isn’t used on the trip just so it can be dry-cleaned,” Barnea Farago said.
The former legal adviser to the PM’s office also stated the act is prohibited because the Sara already enjoys state-funded, unlimited dry cleaning expenses. She also contemplated if the PM’s wife “liked the smell” of the clothes laundered outside of Israel.
The two former advisers to Netanyahu then discussed how the prime minister could not be “mixed up” in these sandals.
“We have to protect the prime minister so he doesn’t get mixed up in these things, and we also have to protect ourselves. Tomorrow they’ll come and ask how we approved all these things,” Barnea Farago said.
Netanyahu’s wife has long made headlines for mistreatment of staff at both their officials and personal residences.
“I saw with my own eyes [top adviser] Natan [Eshel] and [then-deputy director general of the PMO] Ezra [Saidoff], with my own eyes, standing in the Caesarea [home] and cleaning the air conditioner,” Heretz told Barnea Farago in the recording.
While the recording maybe 8-years-old, it was made public mere days after Sara was charged with fraud and breach of trust for ordering catered meals at the PM’s official residence, despite being provided with a cook.
The indictment charged that Sara, along with a government employee, fraudulently obtained more than $100,000 for hundreds of meals supplied by restaurants, bypassing regulations prohibiting the practice if a cook is employed at the home.
However, the Netanyahu’s family spokesperson, denied these allegations as well, terming them “an undeserved reputation for imperiousness.”
Thumbnail/ Banner Credits: REUTERS/Amir Cohen