Sara Netanyahu indicted for misusing funds to purchase gourmet food

Attorney General Mandelblit filed an indictment against the prime minister’s wife, which Netanyahu’s lawyer called “ridiculous and bizarre.”

By: World Israel News Staff 

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit filed an indictment Thursday afternoon against Sara Netanyahu, the prime minister’s wife, for fraudulently charging some NIS 359,000 in gourmet meals to the state’s expense between 2010 and 2013.

Sara Netanyahu’s lawyer Yossi Cohen said Mandelblit’s indictment was “ridiculous and bizarre.”

Netanyahu falsely claimed, according to the indictment, that no cook was employed at the Prime Minister’s Residence when in fact there was a cook employed on a fulltime schedule.

The indictment charged the premier’s wife with fraud under aggravated circumstances and breach of public trust in what has been billed as the “Prepared Food Affair.”

A settlement that would avoid criminal indictment was offered by Netanyahu’s legal counsel.

But this arrangement, which would have included a payment as way of compensation for the spent funds, was not accepted by the State Attorney’s Office rejected the proposal, because monetary compensation for funds embezzled are not considered to be an appropriate form of punishment.

In January, Netanyahu’s lawyers asked Mandelblit to reverse a September 2017 determination to indict the wife of the prime minister. But this attempt failed.

When Nir Hefetz, a Netanyahu adviser at the time the purported fraud was committed, had provided new evidence against Netanyahu, the indictment against the wife of the prime minister was postponed.

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Hefetz’s testimony is primarily focused on Case 4000, the Bezeq-Walla! Affair.

The plot of the so-called “Prepared Food Affair” which extended over a period of time from September 2010 until March 2013, Netanyahu purportedly worked with Ezra Seidoff, who at the time was deputy director-general of the Prime Minister’s Office, to present a facade of lies that presented a situation in which the Prime Minister’s Residence was not employing a fulltime cook and therefore it was necessary to order food from outside caterers.

Directives in place that govern the ordering of food at the Prime Minister’s Residence allow for employing a caterer in a situation in which a cook is not employed.

The claim, as detailed in the indictment, is that the two — Netanyahu and Seidoff — managed to fraudulently extract from state coffers NIS 359,000.

Invoices to chefs for services rendered were forged to get around the spending limits put in place by directives governing the Prime Minister’s Residence. The chefs, 15 in all, were told by Seidoff to forge the invoices.

Mandelblit ruled there was no enough proof to indict Netanyahu because it was not clear that Netanyahu knew what Seidoff was doing.

As a result, Seidoff was indicted for the same offenses as those leveled against Netanyahu. In addition, he was also charged with forging documents in the 15 cases with the chefs. Seidoff’s suspected total fraud amounts to NIS 393,000.

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Because of the sensitivity of the case and the fact that it involves public figures and the use of public funds, the state prosecutor has asked that an expanded panel of judges hear the case.