Israeli police have recommended charging the country’s hardline foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, with several counts of corruption as part of a bribery investigation that could lead to his resignation and a significant government reshuffle.
Lieberman, head of a popular far-right party, is suspected of bribery, fraud, breach of trust, money laundering and obstruction of justice in a case dating back over nine years. If charged and convicted he could face up to 31 years in jail.
He defended himself on Sunday, saying the case against him was politically motivated and that he was innocent on all counts.
The Haaretz newspaper said Lieberman and his aides are accused of using front companies, some in Cyprus, to launder money and of obstructing an inquiry by changing the company names during the investigation. He continued the business operation after he became a minister, it said.
Other Israeli press reports suggest he has been investigated for suspected illegal campaign financing and receiving money from a business tycoon.
Police have also reportedly investigated his relationship with an Israeli diamond tycoon who has interests in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
An immigrant from the former Soviet Union, Lieberman, 50, now lives in a settlement in the occupied West Bank. He has been under investigation since 2006, though that has done little to dampen his electoral appeal. His party, Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel Our Home), campaigned on a tough anti-Arab platform and came in a surprisingly strong third in February’s general elections, elevating the populist Lieberman to the heart of prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet.
Since then the investigation against him has intensified. The case now passes to Israel’s attorney general, Menachem Mazuz, who in the coming weeks or months will decide whether or not to charge the minister. Mazuz has already made clear his concerns about Lieberman. Two months ago he criticized Lieberman’s appointment as foreign minister at a time when he was already under police investigation.
“A properly run country should not reach such a situation,” Mazuz said at the time.
Lieberman is the latest in a list of Israeli politicians who have faced corruption investigations. Among them is Ehud Olmert, who had to resign as prime minister and is still under investigation.
FRENCH AID: Paris has sent a navy ship and aircraft from Reunion Island with some pollution control equipment, but rough seas are spreading the oil spill The operator of a Japanese bulk carrier which ran aground off Mauritius in the Indian Ocean yesterday apologized for a major oil spill, which officials and environmentalists say is creating an ecological disaster, as police prepared to board the ship. The MV Wakashio, operated by Mitsui OSK Lines, struck the reef on Mauritius’ southeast coast on July 25. “We apologize profusely and deeply for the great trouble we have caused,” Mitsui OSK Lines executive vice president Akihiko Ono said at a news conference in Tokyo. The company would “do everything in their power to resolve the issue,” he said. At least 1,000 tonnes of
They stand as eyesores to most passers-by and potential public health risks to authorities, decaying buildings wrapped in tangles of exposed wire, studded with protruding leaky plastic pipes, vegetation billowing from cracks and terraces where particulates from polluted air have accumulated over time. With skyscrapers and ultramodern developments on every side, some of these “nail houses” are also sitting on land worth millions of dollars in Shenzhen’s inferno of a property market, where new-unit and second-hand home prices rival London. In battles over land and development, the nail house phenomenon has become widespread throughout China over the past two decades, with owners
An Italian alpine resort on Friday remained on high alert over fears that a vast chunk of a glacier on the slopes of the Mont Blanc massif could plummet in high temperatures. “No one gets through! No cars, bikes or pedestrians,” was the message at a checkpoint where an automatic barrier and two guards blocked the small road snaking up into a lush valley below the Planpincieux glacier, near the town of Courmayeur and the Italian-French border. The blockade has largely been greeted with contempt by the locals, one of whom said: “It’s a joke.” The huge ice block measuring around 500,000 cubic
The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Hong Kong (FCC) yesterday said that reporters in the territory were experiencing “highly unusual” visas problems, and called on the US and China to stop using the media as a political weapon. Journalists have been caught up in US-China tensions, with both sides placing limits or expelling reporters from their territories in the past few months. Now the spat is filtering into Hong Kong, a regional press hub nominally in charge of its own immigration policies. The FCC said in a statement that multiple media firms had reported delays getting visas in recent months. “The delays have affected journalists