Israeli media: Police question Netanyahu's wife on spending

AP News
Posted: Dec 01, 2016 2:06 PM
Israeli media: Police question Netanyahu's wife on spending

JERUSALEM (AP) — The wife of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday underwent hours of police questioning over suspicions that she improperly spent public funds for personal use, Israeli media reported.

According to multiple reports, police are looking into claims that Sara Netanyahu used state funds to care for her late father and to pay for chefs and food at private and family events.

The reports said Netanyahu's former chief of staff and another senior official in his office have also faced recent questioning regarding the affair.

Israel's Channel 2 TV said Mrs. Netanyahu was questioned for at least eight hours Thursday, and underwent additional questioning two weeks ago. Israeli police declined to comment on Thursday's reports.

Police had previously questioned Sara Netanyahu on the matter and in May, according to Israeli media, recommended that she be indicted on charges of aggravated fraud in three separate cases. But no indictment has been issued. Thursday's questioning was related to new evidence that has emerged, according to the reports.

The Netanyahus deny wrongdoing. They have long faced scrutiny over their spending and have fended off accusations that their lifestyles are out of touch with ordinary Israelis.

Mrs. Netanyahu has long been a lightning rod of controversy, from her supposed interference in state affairs and influence over her husband to allegedly abusive treatment of staff. Supporters say the criticism, which dates back to the 1990s, is malicious.

In May, a former employee of the prime minister's residence was awarded some $25,000 in damages for Mrs. Netanyahu's behavior, which he said included forcing him back to work late at night because he had failed to say a proper goodnight when he left.

In February, an Israeli court ruled that Mrs. Netanyahu mistreated and abused a former member of her housekeeping staff, awarding the man $42,000 in damages.