A criminal investigation into suspected mismanagement in the running of the residences of prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has been ordered by Israel’s attorney general.
The attorney general’s decision on Monday came a few months after a report by the state comptroller, an official watchdog agency, that detailed large sums of public money spent on food, furniture, cleaning and gardening at the official residence of the Prime minister and his wife in Jerusalem and in their private home in the exclusive coastal city of Caesarea. Cleaning expenses in that home alone averaged more than $2,100 a month in taxpayer’s money, according to the February report, even though the couple only spent the occasional weekend there
The Guardian reports: A report by Israel’s state auditor covering 2009-2013 said some of the taxpayer-funded running costs at the prime minister’s official and private residences were unreasonably high and called for steps to improve efficiency.
A justice ministry statement said the attorney general, Yehuda Weinstein, had adopted a police recommendation to investigate “a number of matters concerning the running of the prime minister’s residences”.
The statement mentioned no names and a source at the state attorney’s office said there were no plans to call in Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, for questioning, although this could not be ruled out later.
“We cannot elaborate on what investigative actions have been taken or will be taken … [or] who will be invited for questioning,” the statement said.
Israeli news reports said a senior official at the prime minister’s office overseeing logistical matters and an external contractor would be questioned.
In an acrimonious election campaign that led to Netanyahu securing a fourth term in office in March, some Israeli news outlets published allegations of imperious treatment of household staff by Sara Netanyahu.
She and the prime minister denied the allegations and he called on the media to focus on him in the election campaign rather than his wife.