Posts Tagged ‘bribery’

Netanyahu says government ‘stable’ after police recommend his indictment

February 14, 2018


© AFP | Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says his government remains “stable”, on February 14, 2018. a day after police recommended his indictment for corruption, prompting calls for him to resign
JERUSALEM (AFP) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday his government was “stable” and criticised the police investigation against him after detectives recommended his indictment for corruption, prompting calls for him to resign.”I can reassure you that the coalition is stable,” Netanyahu said at an event in Tel Aviv, again making clear he had no intention of resigning.

“Neither me nor anyone else has plans for elections. We’re going to continue to work together for the good of Israeli citizens until the end of the term.”

Netanyahu, prime minister for a total of nearly 12 years, denounced the police recommendations against him as “full of holes, like Swiss cheese.”

He said the police report “misleads” and is “contrary to the truth and logic.”

Netanyahu is facing the biggest challenge to his long tenure in office after police recommended on Tuesday that he be indicted for bribery, fraud and breach of public trust.

The attorney general must now decide how to move forward with the case, a process that could take months.

A prime minister facing such police recommendations or who has been formally charged is not obliged to resign.


Police recommend Israel PM Netanyahu be indicted for bribery, breach of trust

February 13, 2018

Following year-long corruption probes, investigators believe they have collected enough evidence to take PM to trial on a series of serious corruption charges

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem on February 11, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / POOL / RONEN ZVULUN)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister’s office in Jerusalem on February 11, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / POOL / RONEN ZVULUN)

Police officials informed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday evening they are recommending he be indicted for bribery and breach of trust in both of the corruption investigations against him.

The prime minister’s lawyers were informed of the impending police announcement to this effect.

Police are set to formally announce the recommendations at 8.45 p.m.

Netanyahu, who has denied any wrongdoing, has informed news stations that he will give a live, 10-minute-long statement to press at 8.47 p.m.

In the so-called Case 1000, Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, are suspected of receiving illicit gifts from billionaire benefactors, reportedly including hundreds of thousands of shekels’ worth of cigars and champagne from the Israeli-born Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan.

Case 2000 involves a suspected illicit quid-pro-quo deal between Netanyahu and Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper publisher Arnon Mozes that would have seen the prime minister weaken a rival daily, the Sheldon Adelson-backed Israel Hayom, in return for more favorable coverage from Yedioth.

Arnon Milchan (center) with Shimon Peres (left) and Benjamin Netanyahu, March 28, 2005. (Flash90/File)

Police have also recommended Milchan and Moses stand trial for bribery, according to Hebrew media reports.

The recommendations were presented to the State Prosecution earlier Monday for consideration by Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, who alone has the power to bring charges against a sitting prime minister.

Minutes before the police announcement, the force released a statement saying that there was “no truth” to reports that Mandelblit tried to prevent them from publishing recommendations.

“There is close cooperation between the police commissioner, the head of the investigations unit, the State Prosecution and the attorney general, as always,” a police spokesperson said.

The statement from the police is expected to be followed in the next few days by a more detailed explanation from the State Prosecution, which will lay out each proposed charge against the prime minister.

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit speaks during a farewell ceremony for outgoing Supreme Court chief justice Miriam Naor in Jerusalem on November 6, 2017. (Flash90)

The recommendations conclude two year-long investigations into alleged corruption by Netanyahu that have seen numerous leaks to media outlets. Netanyahu has been questioned in the cases seven times.

The core of the Case 1000 has focused on whether Milchan’s gifts were given merely out of generosity and friendship, as the Netanyahus have claimed, or whether prime minister used his position to provide reciprocal favors to the Hollywood mogul.

Leaked reports of the investigation indicated that Milchan spent some NIS 400,000-600,000 ($100,000-150,000) on champagne and cigars for the Netanyahus over the better part of a decade.

Milchan reportedly told Israeli police under questioning that the Netanyahus demanded the champagne and cigars that he has allegedly been supplying them.

The Netanyahus reportedly used the code words “pinks” and “leaves” to demand more champagne and cigars, and these items were then purchased through people working for Milchan and delivered to the prime minister and his wife by Milchan’s chauffeurs.

Sara Netanyahu also reportedly had Milchan buy her expensive jewelry and then complained when she did not receive the full set that she had requested.

Netanyahu is said to have told police that gifts from the Milchans were presents from their “best friends.” The families meet up “all the time,” he reportedly claimed, even providing photos of their year-long relationship to prove it.

One of the possible instances of a quid pro quo favor given to Milchan in return for the gifts is Netanyahu’s help in securing the Hollywood producer with a US visa. Netanyahu has admitted to asking US Secretary of State John Kerry to intervene to restore of a 10-year US visa for Milchan but has claimed it had nothing to do with the gifts and that he has made similar gestures for others.

Australian billionaire James Packer, chairman of Crown Limited, one of Australia’s largest entertainment and integrated resort groups, has also been a central figure in the case and is also believed to have sent lavish gifts of his own to the Netanyahus over the years.

Milchan reportedly told police he had asked Packer, who is a mutual friend of his and of the Netanyahus, to help shoulder the cost of the gifts and that Packer paid a quarter of the value.

Packer is also said to have lavished Netanyahu’s college-aged son, Yair, with gifts that included extended stays at luxury hotels in Tel Aviv, New York, and Aspen, Colorado, the use of his private jet and dozens of tickets for concerts by Packer’s former fiancée, Mariah Carey.

Similar to the allegations surrounding Milchan, police reportedly investigated whether Netanyahu tried to help Packer gain residency in Israel. Packer bought a home next to Netanyahu in the upscale coastal city of Caesarea and reportedly sought residency status for tax purposes.

Several other billionaires and multimillionaires have been linked to the case, and some interviewed by police, including British-Israeli businessman Chaim “Poju” Zabludowicz, US businessman Spencer Partrige, British-American Leonard Blavatnik, Canadian-Israeli Nathan Jacobson, and head of Indian mega-conglomerate Ratan Tata.

In Case 2000, under the alleged agreement between Mozes and Netanyahu — which was not implemented — the prime minister said he would advance legislation to curb the circulation of Israel Hayom if Mozes instructed his reporters and op-ed writers to change their often negative stance towards him.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) and Yedioth Ahronoth publisher Noni Mozes (composite image: Flash90)

Yedioth, once the country’s largest tabloid, is often seen as critical of Netanyahu.

In August, Israeli police explicitly said for the first time that a number of corruption investigations involving Netanyahu deal with “bribery, fraud and breach of trust.”

Day’s later, Ari Harow, a former chief of staff and aide to Netanyahu, signed a deal to turn state’s witness in the investigations.

Harow has been under investigation since mid-2015 on suspicion of using his ties to Netanyahu to advance his private business interests. Police have recommended he be indicted for bribery and breach of trust in the case, but the attorney general has yet to file formal charges.

It was the investigations into Harow that sparked Case 2000, after investigators uncovered recordings on Harow’s computer of meetings between Netanyahu and Mozes in late 2014 and early 2015.


Netanyahu lashes out at Israel police as graft probe nears end

February 8, 2018


© POOL/AFP/File / by Laurent Lozano | Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has denied graft allegations

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has lashed out at police in a rare attack with detectives reportedly on the verge of recommending his indictment for accepting bribes.

Pressure has built on Netanyahu as police investigating him in the long-running probe reportedly prepare to submit their recommendations to the attorney general next week.

Israeli media have reported that police are expected to recommend his indictment for bribery, fraud and breach of public trust.

Israeli authorities have refused to comment publicly on the reports. The attorney general is expected to take weeks or months to decide how to proceed after receiving the recommendations.

On Wednesday night, Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich said in an interview with Channel 2 television that detectives probing Netanyahu had been targeted by private investigators to dig up dirt on them.

Netanyahu posted a response on Facebook late Wednesday in which he lashed out at the police commissioner, calling suggestions that he sent private investigators on such a mission “ridiculous”.

“It is shocking to discover that the commissioner has repeated the mistaken and ridiculous suggestion that Prime Minister Netanyahu sent private investigators after the police who are investigating him,” the post said.

He also referred to claims that sexual harassment allegations against the head of the unit investigating Netanyahu were an attempt to smear him because of the graft probe.

“Any honest person would ask himself how people who say such delusional things about the prime minister can objectively investigate him and honestly give unbiased recommendations,” the post said.

“A large shadow was cast tonight over the police investigations and their recommendations related to Prime Minister Netanyahu.”

The investigation has raised the possibility that Netanyahu, prime minister for a total of nearly 12 years, will eventually be forced to resign.

– Cigars and champagne –

Police are investigating Netanyahu over suspicions that he received expensive gifts, including pricey cigars, from wealthy supporters such as Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan and Australian billionaire James Packer.

His wife allegedly received bottles of pink champagne.

The gifts were reportedly worth some tens of thousands of dollars.

They are also probing allegations that he sought a secret deal for favourable coverage with the publisher of top-selling newspaper Yediot Aharonot.

According to Israeli media, police are expected to recommend the indictments in the first case, but no decision has been made in the second.

Netanyahu has been questioned seven times by police over the allegations.

A separate investigation is also underway in which Netanyahu allies have been questioned by police over the purchase of German submarines.

Netanyahu has not been named as a suspect in the submarine investigation, but the probe has added to the pressure building around him.

The 68-year-old premier has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and says he is being targeted by political opponents. He repeated that in a video posted to Facebook on Wednesday.

He said he was “confident in the fact that at the end of the day, the legal authorities will arrive at the only conclusion possible, the simple truth: There is nothing.”

Netanyahu’s allies have in the past said there is no crime in friends exchanging gifts, but investigators have reportedly arrived at the conclusion that they were in fact bribes.

An indictment alone would not legally oblige Netanyahu to resign, though he would likely face mounting pressure to do so. He would be legally forced to resign if convicted and with all appeals exhausted.

Parliament, however, could also enact a special procedure against him before his case is exhausted if he is found to be guilty of moral turpitude.

Netanyahu’s time as premier is fast approaching Israel’s revered founding father David Ben-Gurion’s 13 years, and he has shown himself to be a shrewd politician.

But an indictment is sure to encourage his political rivals — including those from within his own party — to move against him.

Israel has not shied away from pursuing criminal cases against top politicians.

Ex-prime minister Ehud Olmert resigned from office after police recommended he be indicted for graft. He was freed from prison in July after being granted parole from a 27-month sentence.

He has largely remained out of the public eye since his release, but Israeli media reported that he broke his silence on the Netanyahu case on Wednesday.

“I wish for the prime minister that he end his term quickly and in a seemly manner,” Olmert, also known for his taste for fine cigars, was quoted as saying at an event in Tel Aviv.

by Laurent Lozano

Head of Nigeria’s anti-corruption court charged with bribery

February 3, 2018

Danladi Umar was accused by the country’s anti-graft body EFCC of demanding 10 million naira ($27,800) from a suspect. (Photo courtesy: Social media)
ABUJA: Nigeria’s top judge handling corruption cases against public officials has himself been charged with bribery, court papers showed Saturday.
Danladi Umar was accused by the country’s anti-graft body EFCC of demanding 10 million naira (22,300 euros; $27,800) from a suspect “for a favor to be afterwards shown to him in relation to the pending charge,” according to court papers seen by AFP.
The embattled judge was also alleged to have received in 2012, through his personal assistant, the sum of 1.8 million naira from the same accused “in connection with the pending case before him,” the papers revealed.
Umar, who chairs the Code of Conduct tribunal, last year cleared Senate president Bukola Saraki of corruption charges linked to his time as a state governor.
The bribery allegations against Umar were first brought to the fore when Saraki was charged with corruption linked to false asset declaration and money laundering as governor of his central Kwara state between 2003 and 2011.
Doubts about Umar’s integrity grew further when the senate president was cleared in June 2017 of the charges against him.
The EFCC appealed the ruling and in December, a panel of judges ordered a retrial of three of the 18 charges initially brought against Saraki, Nigeria’s third-ranking politician after the president and vice president.
The case has been one of the most high-profile prosecutions since President Muhammadu Buhari came to power in 2015, vowing to end graft and impunity at the highest level.

A Chinese Empire Reborn By Coercion, Force and Power

January 6, 2018

Subversion of US Economic Sanctions Against Iran: Turkey Gets Behind Iran; Detains 17 In Turkish-Iranian Gold Trade and Money Laundering Case

December 5, 2017


© AFP/File | Reza Zarrab has become the star witness in a New York trial over alleged subversion of US economic sanctions against Iran, implicating a former Turkish minister and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

ISTANBUL (AFP) – Turkey has detained 17 suspects in an investigation into a Turkish-Iranian gold trader who was once a close ally of the government but is now testifying against officials as a star witness in a high profile US case, reports said on Tuesday.

Reza Zarrab is giving evidence in a New York trial over alleged subversion of US economic sanctions against Iran that has implicated former Turkish ministers and even President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Erdogan has rubbished the accusations and on Tuesday said that the case was a “plot” aimed at hurting Turkey.

Zarrab, 34, was arrested by US authorities in March 2016 on suspicion of taking part in the alleged sanctions-busting scam but is now cooperating with the authorities in an apparent plea bargain.

Ankara has reacted with fury to the switch by Zarrab — once seen as the golden boy of the Turkish business world with a pop star wife — seizing his assets and opening an investigation against him on accusations of “espionage”.

A total of 17 people have now been detained as part of this investigation, with three picked up initially and 14 more in a later sweep, the Anadolu news agency reported.

The three detained initially are accused of sending documents to the US regarding the case and links to the group of Fethullah Gulen who Ankara accuses of masterminding the July 15, 2016 failed coup. Gulen denies the charges.

Turkish officials have repeatedly argued that the US case is a bid by Gulen to besmirch Erdogan and Turkey, following a corruption scandal in late 2013 that had also seen Zarrab arrested.

“The case is not a plot against America, it’s a plot against Turkey,” Erdogan told supporters in a speech on Tuesday.

“The case has nothing to do with law, justice or trade, it’s an acrobatic spectacle,” he added.

Since Zarrab became a witness, deputy chief executive of Turkish lender Halkbank Mehmet Hakan Atilla is now the lone defendant in the dock accused of violating sanctions, bribery and money laundering.

Zarrab has admitted to bribing former Turkish economy minister Zafer Caglayan and being involved in the multi-billion-dollar gold-for-oil scheme.

On Thursday he told the court he was informed that in 2012, then prime minister Erdogan and then treasury minister Ali Babacan had given “instructions” for two other Turkish public banks to take part in the scheme.

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Was Right About Corruption — Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, once seen as a leading contender to the throne, has been freed after agreeing to pay over $1 billion to settle corruption allegations

November 29, 2017

RIYADH (Reuters) – Senior Saudi Arabian prince Miteb bin Abdullah, once seen as a leading contender to the throne, has been freed after agreeing to pay over $1 billion to settle corruption allegations against him, a Saudi official said on Wednesday.

Miteb, 65, son of the late King Abdullah and former head of the elite National Guard, was among dozens of royal family members, high officials and senior businessmen rounded up this month in a crackdown on graft that has strengthened the power of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The official, who is involved in the crackdown and spoke on condition of anonymity, said Miteb was released on Tuesday after reaching “an acceptable settlement agreement”. The official said he believed the agreed sum to be the equivalent of over $1 billion.

“It is understood that the settlement included admitting corruption involving known cases,” the official said, without giving details.

According to the official, Prince Miteb was accused of embezzlement, hiring ghost employees and awarding contracts to his own firms, including a deal for walkie talkies and bulletproof military gear.

Prince Miteb is the first senior figure known to be released among those detained. Around 200 people in total have been questioned in the crackdown, authorities said earlier this month.

The allegations, which include kickbacks, inflating government contracts, extortion and bribery, could not be independently verified.

Saudi authorities, who estimate they could eventually recover around $100 billion of illicit funds, have been working on reaching agreements with suspects detained at Riyadh’s luxurious Ritz Carlton hotel, asking them to hand over assets and cash in return for their freedom.

Apart from Miteb, the Saudi official said that at least three other suspects had finalised settlement agreements and that the public prosecutor had decided to release several individuals.

The prosecutor has decided to put at least five people on trial, the official said without disclosing their identities.

The fate of billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, chairman of investment firm Kingdom Holding 4280.SE and one of Saudi Arabia’s most prominent international businessmen, was not known.

Kingdom issued a statement earlier this month saying it was continuing to operate normally but has not responded to queries about his status since he was detained early this month.

Two Saudi sources told Reuters that Prince Alwaleed has so far refused to reach a settlement and had asked for access to his lawyer in order to fight allegations against him.

Relatives, his lawyer and officials in his office could not be contacted to comment.


Saudi Arabia’s stock market .TASI, where many investors have been alarmed by the corruption probe, rose after news of the settlements by Prince Miteb and others. The main index was trading 0.4 percent higher around midday on Wednesday.

The settlements may mean authorities can soon wind down parts of the probe, reducing the risk of damage to the economy through the freezing of hundreds of bank accounts, and easing the danger that firms linked to detainees could be affected.

Officials from Prince Miteb’s office could not be reached for comment about his release, and it was unclear if he was able to move freely or whether he would be put under house arrest.

An acquaintance of the family said earlier on his Twitter account that Prince Miteb was receiving brothers and sons at his palace in Riyadh.

The arrests of royals and top businessmen have been welcomed by many Saudis who are frustrated by corruption, but the crackdown is also seen by many people as a pre-emptive step by Prince Mohammed to remove any possible challenge to his control over the world’s top oil exporting country.

The round-up follows a meticulously planned palace coup in June through which Prince Mohammed ousted his elder cousin Prince Mohammed bin Nayef as heir to the throne.

Prince Miteb, as overlord of the 100,000-strong National Guard, represented the last great competing power center left after the toppling of Prince Mohammed bin Nayef. In September, religious and intellectual critics of the government were jailed.

Reporting by Samia Nakhoul Writing by Sami Aboudi and Andrew Torchia; Editing by Michael Georgy and Raissa Kasolowsky

Brazil corruption probe could be in final phase: “It’s essential in 2018 that every voter acts carefully and supports the anti-corruption agenda.”

November 28, 2017


© AFP | A leading prosecutor in Brazil’s massive “Lava Jato” corruption probe says next year’s elections will determine the fate of the fight to hold officials accountable, as seen in this protest November 17


A top Brazilian prosecutor says general elections in 2018 will be the climax of the country’s biggest ever corruption probe, known as Operation Car Wash.

“2018 will be the final battle of Car Wash, because the 2018 elections will determine the future of the fight against corruption in our country,” said Deltan Dallagnol, a central prosecutor in the probe, during a conference Monday in Rio de Janeiro.

The presidency and Congress are up for election in October next year, the first major polls since the Car Wash probe plunged Brazil into political crisis.

Car Wash was launched in early 2014, uncovering a vast web of embezzlement and bribery through the Brazilian government, legislature and corporate world, especially the state oil company Petrobras.

Former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has been convicted of bribe-taking and current President Michel Temer is charged with racketeering and bribe-taking. Dozens of lawmakers also face charges or probes.

Although the anti-corruption campaign has been popular with Brazilian voters, lawmakers led by Temer have repeatedly pushed back against prosecutors, arguing that they are on a politicized crusade and have exceeded their authority.

In a joint statement, prosecutors from Rio, Sao Paulo and Curitiba states warned at the conference that “attempts to guarantee impunity for powerful politicians are intensifying.”

“It’s essential in 2018 that every voter acts carefully (voting for) deputies and senators with a clean sheet and committed to democratic and republican values, and who support the anticorruption agenda,” the statement said.

The next batch of congressional deputies and senators “will determine whether there is a retreat in the fight against corruption or if there will be reforms and advances that create a fairer country,” Dallagnol said.

The Car Wash team said that it has so far opened 416 criminal cases and secured sentences against 144 people, totalling 2,130 years prison.

Another prosecutor, Eduardo El Hage, warned that there would be new operations next year.

“We are planning concrete actions,” he said. “It will be a year of a lot of work.”

Israel: Police Recommend Charging Netanyahu’s Pick for National Security Adviser With Bribery in Submarine Affair

November 23, 2017

In the affair’s latest development, police recommend the indictment of former deputy head of the National Security Council Avriel Bar-Yosef

Josh Breiner Nov 23, 2017 6:05 PM

Image may contain: 1 person, eyeglasses

Avriel Bar Yosef in court, October, 2017. Moti Kimche

The Israel Police announced on Thursday it found sufficient evidence to charge Avriel Bar-Yosef, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s pick for national security advisor, for bribery in the so-called submarine affair.

The announcement was made after the completion of an investigation into suspicions of bribery, fraud and breach of trust while Bar-Yosef was serving as deputy head of National Security Council.

Bar-Yosef was suspected of receiving bribes during his tenure as deputy head of the National Security Council, from a German businessman who invested hundreds of thousands of euros in a company owned by a relative of Bar-Yosef. In return, the businessman promoted

The investigation file will be transferred in the coming days to the State Prosecutor’s Office for review and decision.

Israel’s “submarine affair” continues to develop as additional suspects are brought in for police questioning as part of the investigation. At least ten high-powered individuals have been identified as involved in the scandal, including very close associates of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Netanyahu making a speech during the January 2016 ceremony for one of the submarines

A multimillion dollar submarine deal with German shipbuilder ThyssenKrupp is the focus of a police investigation, which is probing possible wrongdoing involving  Netanyahu’s personal attorney  and German shipbuilder ThyssenKrupp’s local representative.

The case, called Case 3000 by police, was based around the 2 billion Euro deal to purchase three submarines and four patrol boats intended to protect Israel’s offshore natural gas platforms.

In July, Miki Ganor turned state’s evidence; Ganor is a businessman who served as ThyssenKrupp’s local representative. Ganor was arrested in the first round of arrests, along with Netanyahu’s personal attorney David Shimron and Bar-Yosef.

Josh Breiner
Haaretz Contributor
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Turkey denies offering money for US extradition of Erdogan rival

November 12, 2017


© AFP/File | Did Michael Flynn discuss expelling Gulen in exchange for a secret payout?

ANKARA (AFP) – Turkey has rejected as “ludicrous” allegations that it offered several million dollars to the United States to extradite a political rival to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

US media reported that investigators in Washington are probing whether former White House national security advisor Michael Flynn discussed expelling Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen in exchange for a secret payout.

Ankara blames Gulen’s movement for the July 15, 2016 failed coup against Erdogan, and has pressed for his extradition from the United States, where he has lived since 1999.

Gulen, who has a large Turkish following, strongly denies the charges.

“All allegations that Turkey would resort to means external to the rule of law for his extradition are utterly false, ludicrous and groundless”, Turkey’s embassy in Washington said on Twitter Saturday.

NBC News and the Wall Street Journal said Friday that US special prosecutor Robert Mueller is examining a meeting Flynn had with senior Turkish officials weeks after Donald Trump won the presidential race last year.

The meeting allegedly discussed a secret payout of up to $15 million dollars if, once in office, Flynn would engineer the deportation to Turkey of Gulen as well as help free Erdogan-linked Iranian-Turkish businessman Reza Zarrab from prison.

NBC and the Journal both cited multiple people familiar with the probe by Mueller, who is leading the investigation into whether members of Trump’s campaign colluded with Russian meddling in the election.

The Journal said it is not clear how far the proposal went and that there was no sign that any payments were made.

Lawyers for Flynn have labelled the allegations “outrageous” and “false”.

According to the two reports, the discussions included details of how Gulen could be flown secretly by private jet to the isolated Turkish prison island of Imrali.