JERUSALEM: An Israeli court has convicted Sara Netanyahu, the wife of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, of misusing public funds through lying to use regime’s funds for meals at her private residence.
On Sunday, judge Avital Chen at the magistrate’s court in Jerusalem al-Quds and Sara Netanyahu reached an agreement on a plea bargain in which she admitted to the lesser offence of exploiting another person’s mistake and the court dropped the original fraud charge over her illegal ordering of catered meals to the prime minister’s residence some nine years ago.
Sara Netanyahu, 60, will have to pay 45,000 shekels (12,552 dollars) in reimbursement and pay a fine of 10,000 shekels. She will also have a criminal record.
She had been originally charged in June last year with aggravated fraud, fraud, and breach of trust by spending some 100,000 dollars’ worth of regime funds to order hundreds of catered meals while concealing the fact that a cook had been employed at the premier’s private residence.
There, she threw lavish dinner parties, hired overpaid aides, and concealed her spending to auditors.
“The deal reached between the sides is worthy and appropriately reflects the deeds and their severity on the criminal level,” Chen said in his ruling.
The criminal investigation into spending of regime funds at Netanyahu’s home was launched in 2015, based on a comptroller’s report issued in February that year and evidence supplied by a former chief caretaker at the prime minister’s residence.
Sara Netanyahu has also come under fire for her abusive behavior against servants. She is currently being sued by a former cleaner who claims she has mistreated her.
Back in 2016, a labor court awarded some 47,000 dollars in damages to a former chief caretaker of the prime minister’s residence in a civil suit, accusing Sara Netanyahu of repeated workplace abuse and mistreatment.
Benjamin Netanyahu is also facing corruption cases himself. In February, the regime’s attorney general announced that he intended to bring fraud and bribery charges against the prime minister, pending a pre-trial hearing.
That session is set for early October, two weeks after September 17 general elections. Netanyahu won elections in April but then failed to form a coalition.