Wife of Israeli prime minister charged with fraud

Netanyahu

Sara Netanyahu, wife of Israeli prime minister, has been charged with fraud and breach of trust over the alleged misuse of state funds at the couple’s official residence.

A Jerusalem magistrate’s court indicted her on Thursday alongside a government employee.

She was accused of fraudulently obtaining more than 100,000 dollars for hundreds of meals supplied by restaurants, bypassing regulations prohibiting the practice if a cook is employed at the home.

She was charged with fraud, breach of trust and aggravated fraudulent receipt of goods.

If convicted, she could face up to five years behind bars.

The prime minister, who himself is embroiled in a series of corruption investigations, has called the allegations, against his wife, absurd and unfounded.

He has insisted that he will not step down as prime minister, though an indictment against him would likely lead to his government coalition partners forcing him out.

Sara Netanyahu’s lawyers said the indictment was “ludicrous.’’

In a statement, the lawyers said others had ordered the meals and that the restrictions on ordering food were invalid.

“There was no fraud or breach of trust or fraudulent receipt of items or any other offence,” the statement .

“The prime minister’s wife, who is not a public servant, did not know the procedures and was found to have spoken truthfully when answering questions during a lie detector test,’’ the statement said.

Sara, 59, has inspired a multitude of headlines in the past over what family spokesmen call an undeserved reputation for imperiousness.

It seemed unlikely the latest case could cause significant political damage to her husband, now in his fourth term as Israel’s leader and riding high in opinion polls despite the allegations against him.

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