State comptroller allows Netanyahu to take loan from wealthy associate for legal defense

The move allowed the prime minister to circumvent earlier decisions by a permits committee in the State Comptroller’s Office.

By World Israel News Staff 

Israel’s State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman approved on Wednesday a request by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to borrow up to two million shekels from American businessman Spencer Partrich, to help finance the premier’s legal defense, as Netanyahu faces an indictment in three cases of alleged corruption, pending a hearing.

The move allowed the prime minister to circumvent earlier decisions by a permits committee in the State Comptroller’s Office which had barred him from seeking financing from his affluent associate, stating that Netanyahu was financially solid enough that he did not need to seek the help of someone else.

The permits committee rejected the prime minister’s request for the final time in June after Netanyahu reportedly had failed to supply his financial data as the committee had requested.

However, the State Comptroller’s Office now says, following Engelman’s decision, that Yosef Shapira, the previous comptroller with whom the request was originally filed, had approved the loan from Partrich if it is granted on market terms and if the prime minister would make an arrangement to counter potential conflict of interest.

Netanyahu will be required to report the loan as part of his capital gains portfolio.

Partrich had been questioned by police, according to media reports, regarding one of the cases in which the prime minister is a suspect for allegedly accepting lavish gifts or benefits from wealthy acquaintances.

Netanyahu’s main challenger in the September 17 Knesset election, MK Benny Gantz – leader of the Blue and White list, charged that the state comptroller was “making a serious mistake” in approving the loan. He accused Engelman of “working” for Netanyahu instead of acting as an objective ombudsman.

The prime minister’s Likud party countered by accusing “the left” of “hypocrisy.”

“The attack by Gantz on a senior watchdog like the state comptroller is crossing a red line,” the Likud said in a statement.

“The left, which always cries foul over any harm to a watchdog, suddenly allows itself to recklessly lash out, exposing its hypocrisy,” Netanyahu’s party added.