Sara Netanyahu, wife of Israeli leader, charged with fraud

By Sara Shayanian  |  Updated June 21, 2018 at 11:04 AM
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June 21 (UPI) -- The wife of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was charged Thursday with fraud and breach of trust over the alleged use of state funds for food and private chefs.

Sara Netanyahu, 59, was indicted with Ezra Saidoff, a former deputy director general of the prime minister's office.

According to the indictment, the first lady instructed staff to order gourmet meals worth nearly $100,000 between 2010 and 2013. She also used nearly $10,000 in state funds to pay for private chefs, prosecutors say.

The charges say she was aware that ordering outside meals violated the rules and asked staff to hide the chefs "so that this won't be found out by the Treasury and the office manager."

Lawyers for the Netanyahus called the indictment "outrageous."

According to a statement released Thursday, the attorneys claim the food wasn't only used for the Netanyahu family, but also for other people, including diplomats and house employees.

"Now there's a chance to cast a light beam on the facts and the facts. We're sure that eventually justice, truth and logic will come out," the attorneys said, adding the charges were based on "false claims and false data."

Thursday's indictment is the latest in a series of scandals the Netanyahus have faced in recent months.

Earlier this year, a recording of Sara Netanyahu yelling at a family publicist over a gossip column was leaked. She was ordered to pay tens of thousands of dollars to two workers last year who accused her of bullying.

Recordings of the couple's son, Yair, were also released in January that alluded to his father helping a friend's father, gas tycoon Kobi Maimon, make a $20 billion gas deal.

In 2015, the Netanyahus came under fire for spending thousands in public funds on their weekend home in Caesarea -- including "hundreds of thousands of shekels" on take-out meals, despite having a private cook and spending $2,500 a month on ice cream alone.

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