Israel: Netanyahu's Wife To be Charged With Fraud Over Lavish Dinner Parties and Private Chefs

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C) and his wife Sara react to his supporters during an event by his Likud Party, in Tel Aviv, Israel August 9, 2017 REUTERS/Amir Cohen

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's wife Sara is expected to face criminal charges over fraud amounting to the equivalent of over $110,000 after, among other accusations, she is alleged to have used public funds to throw lavish dinner parties and hire private chefs.

The indictment against Sara Netanyahu, anticipated in a matter of weeks, sees the noose begin to tighten around the Israeli Prime Minister—known as 'Bibi'—who is implicated with an inner-circle of associates in a series of cases relating to fraud, bribery and corruption, Haaretz reported.

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Sara Netanyahu, the Prime Minister's third wife, is accused of misusing state funds at the residence the pair share, receiving goods under false pretenses and breach of trust.

Netanyahu reportedly ordered food and chefs to cater private events, at the expense of the Prime Minister's Residence. The couple's former cartaker, Meni Naftali, has filed a lawsuit claiming she gave a higher number of guests than had actually attended so as to pay more per meal for fewer diners.

The Times of Israel reported the most serious charges against her include the hiring of an electrician from her husband's right-wing Likud party's central committee. Sara went ahead with the hiring despite the Prime Minister's legal office ruling against it.

Also under investigation are the use of government funds relating to personal expenses at the family's private home in Caesarea. Furniture that was apparently bought for the residence in Jerusalem was moved to the pair's personal home.

Eliad Shraga, the lawyer heading the Movement for Quality Government in Israel, tells Newsweek that the issues surrounding Sara Netanyahu have always been "in the margins" of the wider cases implicating her husband. He added that negative perceptions of her have also fuelled the controversy.

"The way that she behaves became a matter. Instead of being modest … she did not accept that she is the wife of the prime minister, not the prime minister," Shraga said. "[Sara] says she is always right and the media is after her, they are cheating her and she is the victim," he added.

There are at least four other cases implicating the Israeli leader and his close associates. Case number 1,000 accuses Benjamin Netanyahu illicitly taking gifts from wealthy patrons including cigars and champagne. Police are expected to submit their recommendations in December.

Case 2,000 alleges that Netanyahu made a deal with Arnon Mozes, the publisher of the Israeli daily paper the Yedioth Ahronoth. Netanyahu is under suspicion receiving favorable coverage in exchange for hurting the commercial changes of competing paper Israel Hayom.

But the most damaging and potentially explosive case for the Prime Minister is Case 3,000. Netanyahu has denied intervening over a military contract with German defense contractor ThyssenKrupp in the acquisition of submarines for the Israeli Navy.

The Prime Minister's personal lawyer David Shimron, his cousin stands at the centre of the controversy alongside Netanyahu's former pick for his national security adviser and a senior naval commander. The accusations hit at the heart of the Israeli establishment implicating its highest level politicians and military leaders.