Iraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's wife charged with fraud

Sarah Netanyahu stands accused of misusing public funds

Iraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's wife charged with fraud

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and wife Sarah Netanyahu, 22-05-2017. Image: Avi Ohayon/Israel GPO/Zuma Press/PA Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's wife has been charged with fraud over the alleged misuse of state funds.

The justice ministry said in a statement that Sarah Netanyahu stands accused of misusing public funds by fraudulently ordering hundreds of meals worth more than $100,000 (€85,000) to the prime minister's official residence, while falsely stating there were no cooks on the staff.

A former deputy director of the prime minister's residence is also charged in the case.

Mrs Netanyahu has long faced allegations of abusive behaviour and living extravagantly in a manner out of touch with the general public.

Corruption

The Israeli prime minister is also facing several police investigations into alleged corruption.

In one case, he and family members are suspected of receiving $285,000 (€246,000) worth of luxury cigars, champagne and jewellery from wealthy personalities in exchange for financial or personal favours.

In the other 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.

Denial

Mr Netanyahu has denied any wrongdoing, dismissing the accusations against him and his wife as a media witch-hunt.

He also faces suspicions of government favours that allegedly saw regulatory breaks go to Israel's largest telecom firm Bezeq, in return for favourable coverage of him and his wife by a news website.

Despite his troubles, opinion polls suggest Mr Netanyahu's right-wing Likud party would remain the largest in parliament if elections scheduled for November 2019 were held now.