Israeli welfare minister to be indicted for fraud

Israeli welfare minister to be indicted for fraud
Israel's welfare minister will be indicted on corruption allegations as the country's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces the same threat.
2 min read
15 August, 2019
Demonstrator holds a poster of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit [Getty]
Israel's attorney general announced Wednesday he intends to indict the country's welfare minister on corruption allegations, one of a series of graft cases facing government officials.

Haim Katz, 71, is accused of fraud and breach of trust for allegedly introducing legislation to benefit a businessman who had managed his investments based on insider information, a justice ministry statement said.

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit's decision follows a long-running investigation into Katz's dealings with businessman Mordechai Ben-Ari.

Katz is a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party and has served in his current role since 2015.

Netanyahu himself is also facing potential corruption charges in the months ahead on allegations of fraud, bribery and breach of trust in cases unrelated to those of Katz.

The long-serving premier denies all the accusations and has labelled them as bids by his enemies to force him from office.

Mandelblit has announced his intention to charge Netanyahu pending a hearing expected in early October, weeks after Israel's September 17 general elections.

Police have also recommended charges for two other ministers in his government.

Interior Minister Arye Deri has been accused of fraud and breach of trust in an investigation related to real estate sales.

Police have separately recommended charging Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman over accusations he sought to prevent the extradition of a woman facing trial in Australia for paedophilia.

Mandelblit must still decide whether he intends to indict Deri and Litzman.

A court in June convicted Netanyahu's wife Sara of fraudulently using state funds for meals, under a plea bargain which dropped more severe charges.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his right-wing and religious allies won the most seats in an April election but failed to forge a viable coalition government. He then called elections for September 17. 

The veteran premier is engaged in a tough re-election campaign while facing the possibility of being indicted for corruption in the months ahead.

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