US/World News

Netanyahu criminal probe to begin

(JTA) – Police in three hours of questioning Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu collected enough information to launch a criminal investigation into fraud and graft charges, Israel’s attorney general said without detailing the evidence. Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit released a statement late Monday evening after police from the fraud investigative unit questioned Netanyahu at the prime minister’s residence in Jerusalem. Netanyahu reportedly is accused of accepting valuable gifts from businessmen, including longtime friend Ronald Lauder, head of the World Jewish Congress. New evidence collected in recent weeks turned what was to be preliminary questioning into a full investigation, according to the attorney general’s statement, which also listed at least three cases against Netanyahu that have been dropped. Netanyahu has denied any wrongdoing. Lauder has admitted to giving Netanyahu gifts, including suits, as well as hospitality for one of his sons on trips outside of Israel. Lauder has said these were gifts that friends give to each other and serve no other purpose.

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