Israeli PM Netanyahu 'suspected of criminal conduct'

Israeli PM Netanyahu 'suspected of criminal conduct'
A fresh probe into the Israeli prime minister's past travel expenses again raises suspicions of misconduct.
2 min read
26 May, 2016
The Israeli prime minister has denied any wrongdoing [Getty]

An Israeli state comptroller report has criticised Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's financial records, saying they raised "suspicions of criminal conduct".

The report covers a period between 2002 and 2005, when Netanyahu was serving as finance minister.

The records under the microscope feature trips that were not reported to the government committees which judge whether sources of funding may be illegal gifts - an omission in contravention of Israeli law.

"The trips by Netanyahu and his family that were funded by external sources when he was finance minister deviated from the rules, and could give the impression of receiving a gift or of a conflict of interest," the report said.

Through his lawyers, the Israeli leader has denied any misconduct. It remains unclear as to whether Israel's attorney-general will be launching an investigation after examining the issue.

According to his legal team, the prime minister's travels involved appearances at fundraising events for Israel. This, as is noted in state comptroller Joseph Shapira's report, often involves organisations covering the expenses of their invited guests.

In his investigation, Shapira found that Netanyahu was not alone in his non-disclosure of travel expenses, as other ministers at the time had also done the same.

This is not the first time that a probe has been launched into the prime minister's travel expenses.

In 2014, then Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein closed an investigation into the PM's foreign travel expenses after he found no grounds for a criminal investigation.

In this latest report, however, Shapira has said that new material had since been presented.

It is suspected that organisations that hosted the Netanyahus may have been double-billed for travel expenses.

David Shimron, a lawyer for the PM's family, denied this allegation.

"During the relevant period, he behaved like everyone else - the report says - when it came to getting permission and approvals," the lawyer told Israel's Army Radio.

"So if he's not OK, no one is OK."