Netanyahu ordered to repay $300,000 in donations for legal defense, clothing

Netanyahu slams the second rejection by a committee in the State Comptroller’s Office and says he will go to the High Court.

By World Israel News staff

The State Comptroller’s Permits Committee on Sunday rejected for the second time a request by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to fund his legal aid team through $2 million in donations from his cousin Nathan Milikowsky and businessman and close associate Spencer Partridge. The prime minister was also ordered to pay back $300,000 in contributions from Milikowsky to his legal defense fund and for business suits given to him by Partridge.

Netanyahu is currently facing three corruption investigations. He has repeatedly stated that he is innocent and a victim of a witchhunt.

After Netanyahu’s first request for permission to have Milikowsky and Partridge cover his legal fees was turned down in December, the prime minister’s legal defense team last month filed an additional request asking to receive a million dollars in the first phase and $2 million later on. Netanyahu also reportedly said he would pay $100,000 out of pocket to help fund his legal defense.

The committee’s decision comes after State Comptroller Yosef Shapira and Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit determined in December that the prime minister was ineligible to receive $2 million in donations from Milikovsky and Partridge to fund his legal fees.

In the cases against him, the prime minister is suspected of receiving benefits from rich benefactors in return for using his offices to advance their interests. In its December decision, the Comptroller’s Permits Committee said it was inappropriate for non-Israeli benefactors to pay for legal defense in a criminal case relating to receiving funds from wealthy benefactors.

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In addition, State Comptroller Yosef Shapira also reportedly asked Mandelblit last month to investigate whether Netanyahu had improperly received $300,000 from Milikowsky to fund his legal defense without getting the necessary permission from the State Comptroller’s Office.

In its decision Sunday, the committee added that according to Netanyahu’s declaration of capital, he is “affluent,” and therefore he must prove that he has exhausted all his options to self-fund his legal defense before accepting donations.

Netanyahu’s attorneys harshly criticized the committee’s decision, saying: “This is an unprecedented ruling that violates (our client’s) basic rights. It is unheard of for a prime minister to be prevented the basic right of legal aid, which is given to every Knesset member.”

“We intend to file a petition with the High Court of Justice against this outrageous decision,” the lawyers said.

Netanyahu’s Likud party also slammed the decision, insinuating that it was politically motivated.