The Israel Police National Fraud Unit Lahav 433 plans to question three more businessmen in the "2000 case" investigation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the next two days.
A senior businessman associated with Netanyahu is suspected of asking the prime minister to intervene for the purpose of helping the businessman in a business matter. In return, the businessman allegedly promised to help in a matter related to Netanyahu by exerting influence on a third party.
Channel 2 reports that the businessman is Yediot Ahronot publisher Arnon (Noni) Mozes who was reportedly offered a sum of money to take a less critical line against Netanyahu in his newspaper. Another possibilty raised was that if Mozes was less strident in his criticism of the prime minister, Netanyahu would use his influence to cut the circulation of Yediot Ahronot's pro-Netanyahu rival daily newspaper Yisrael Hayom.
The investigators reportedly have recordings documenting the contacts between the businessman and Netanyahu. A law enforcement source said that Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit approved the questioning of the three businessmen, following which a third questioning of Netanyahu is likely. A source involved in the affair said that the three in effect functioned as intermediaries between the businessman and Netanyahu, and were to have made decisions in the matter.
The law enforcement sources added, "No money or gifts were exchanged in this matter; it was a question of mutual influence between the businessman and the prime minister." He added, "The main points of the affair were presented in Netanyahu's second interrogation. Netanyahu referred to the suspicions leveled against him, and gave his version of the events." The five-hour interrogation of Netanyahu in his official residence in Jerusalem last Thursday also involved the "1000 case," in which he is suspected of receiving expensive cigars and champagne from producer Arnold Milchin for many years.
According to the source, after Netanyahu gave his version, "the investigators had to question a number of parties mentioned by Netanyahu. Another interrogation of Netanyahu can be held only after these parties have been questioned." The source went on to say, "The investigators will obviously have to assess the quality of the information they receive from these sources, and compare it with the information accumulated thus far, including the prime minister's version."
Netanyahu's lawyer, Adv. Jacob Weinroth, stated, "There is no trace of a crime" in the acts attributed to Netanyahu in media reports. "Any intelligent person realized that if you give a close friend cigars as a present, no shred of anything illegal is involved." According to Weinroth, he heard Netanyahu's answers in questioning, and he believes that when these answers are published, "It will be clear to everyone listening that there is no concern or trace of a crime."
Published by Globes [online], Israel Business News - www.globes-online.com - on January 8, 2017
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