Netanyahu may have accepted illegal travel perks, state comptroller says

Ben Sales

TEL AVIV (JTA) — Israel’s state comptroller is due to release a report claiming that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu improperly used funds for his and his family’s travel.

The allegations, according to Haaretz, concern the years 2003 to 2005, when Netanyahu served as finance minister. According to the report to be released Tuesday, prepared by State Comptroller Joseph Shapira, Netanyahu may have double-billed travel expenses, diverted funds and used bonus points awarded from government travel for personal use.

“The trips by Netanyahu and his family that were funded by external sources when he was finance minister deviated from the applicable rules, and could create the impression of receiving benefits or conflicts of interest,” Shapira said, according to Haaretz. “Netanyahu never contacted the gifts committee or the permit committee to examine whether accepting external funding [for trips] constituted an improper benefit or forbidden gift.”

The state comptroller’s office previously investigated Netanyahu over the matter five years ago, but did not release a report. At present, police have not opened an investigation into the affair, according to Haaretz. Netanyahu has denied the allegations.

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The investigation is being led by attorney Uri Corb, who also led the corruption investigation of Ehud Olmert, the former Israeli prime minister who began serving a prison sentence this year for a bribery conviction.

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