Great Britain

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu indicted on fraud, breach of trust and bribery charges


ISRAELI Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been charged with corruption after allegedly accepting gifts from wealthy businessmen and giving favours in exchange for positive press coverage.

He was hit with bribery, fraud and breach of trust charges in connection with three three cases - making him the first sitting Israeli PM to be indicted.

He is accused of accepting luxury gifts - including cigars, pink champagne and jewellery worth $246,100 (£199,200) - from Hollywood film producer Arnon Milchan and the Australian billionaire James Packer.

Mr Milchan's gifts were allegedly in return for help with a US visa and tax breaks.

Both Mr Milchan and Mr Packer denied any wrongdoing and face no charges.

He is also accused of colluding with Israeli media mogul Shaul Elovitch, who owns Bezeq, the country's largest telecom company.

In return for positive coverage on an Elovitch-owned news site Mr Netanyahu allegedly made regulatory promises worth hundreds of millions of dollars to the media tycoon.

Mr Elovitch, who himself faces a legal battle, strongly denied wrongdoing, however police said their investigation concluded the two men engaged in a "bribe-based relationship".

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit announced the decision in a statement this afternoon.

Netanyahu, who has denied wrongdoing in three corruption cases, is under no obligation to resign after being charged.

Mr Netanyahu and his wife have faced similar corruption charges over the past three years.

In June last year his spouse Sara Netanyahu was charged with fraud for allegedly misusing $100,000 (£753,000) in public funds to order lavish meals from Israel's most famous chefs.

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