Sara Netanyahu, wife of Israeli PM, charged with fraud

Sara Netanyahu indicted for falsely charging state $100k for meals

Sara Netanyahu was charged on Thursday along with Ezra Saidoff, a former deputy director general of the Prime Minister's Office.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's wife Sara was charged Thursday with fraud and breach of trust after a lengthy probe into allegations she misused state funds to claim for delivery meals costing $100 000 (about R1.3 million).

The indictment against Sara Netanyahu comes months after Israel's justice ministry said she might face charges over the costly meals.

Sara Netanyahu is charged with misusing 359,000 shekels ($100,000; £77,000) for catering services at the prime minister's official residence.

Rules block the residence from ordering meals from off the premises when a cook is employed, according to Haaretz.

Sara and Benjamin Netanyahu visit the British Museum in 2015.

The indictment said she acted to "fraudulently obtain state funding for various expenses for the accused and her family that were not supposed to be financed in this manner".

In September 2017, Israel's attorney general, Avichai Mandelblit, announced he was minded to file an indictment subject to a pre-indictment hearing, which took place in January.

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Regardless, the attorneys contend, Netanyahu and his "family's economic expenses at the prime minister's residence will be paid by the State, as also mandated for the president's residence".

She has denied any wrongdoing.

"This is the first time in Israel and in the world that the wife of a leader is brought to justice over food trays", it said.

In a statement posted on the prime minister's Facebook page, her lawyers called the indictment "baseless and delusional".

The scandal is, however, unlikely the latest case could cause significant political damage to her husband, who is riding high in opinion polls despite the allegations against him.

Police are still investigating suspicions Netanyahu arranged regulatory benefits for the country's biggest telecommunications provider, Bezeq Israeli Telecommunication Corp., in exchange for sympathetic coverage by its online news outlet.

In another case, investigators suspect the premier of trying to reach an agreement with the owner of Yediot Aharonot, a top Israeli newspaper, for more favourable coverage.

Haaretz first reported a year ago that Sara Netanyahu would face fraud charges.

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