Israeli PM Netanyahu's wife signs plea deal in meal fraud case

JERUSALEM (XINHUA) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife, Mrs Sara Netanyahu, signed a plea bargain on Wednesday (June 12) over allegedly misusing state funds to order gourmet meals, the State Attorney’s Office said.

Under the deal, Mrs Netanyahu will admit to lesser charges and be convicted of receiving something by intentionally exploiting another person’s mistake.

She will repay 45,000 shekels (S$17,000) and pay a fine of 10,000 shekels, Israel Radio reported.

The deal will be presented before a judge on Sunday at the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court.

A spokesman for the Netanyahu family was not immediately available to comment.

Mrs Netanyahu, 60, was originally charged with fraud, aggravated fraud and breach of trust.

According to her original charge sheet, she fraudulently obtaining some US$100,000 (S$136,000) of public funds for hundreds of meals supplied by well-known restaurants and chefs to the official prime minister’s residency in Jerusalem while falsely stating that there were no cooks or staff at home.

Her lawyers said that she was unaware of the regulations that forbid her from doing so and the meals were ordered by an aide to serve visiting officials.

Her trial has drawn public attention to the long trail of criminal investigations and scandals involving the Netanyahus.

Prime Minister Netanyahu is himself entangled in a series of criminal corruption investigations, though he denies any wrongdoing and has alleged the investigations are a witch hunt orchestrated by the leftist media and his political enemies.

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