Sara Netanyahu sentenced for misusing state funds

Wife of Israeli prime minister is fined more than $15,000 under plea bargain

Sara Netanyahu and her lawyer Yossi Cohem wait for the judge to arrive at the Magistrate’s Court in Jerusalem. Photograph: Debbie Hill/AFP/Getty Images

Sara Netanyahu and her lawyer Yossi Cohem wait for the judge to arrive at the Magistrate’s Court in Jerusalem. Photograph: Debbie Hill/AFP/Getty Images

 

The wife of Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu has been fined more than $15,000 (€13,448) for misusing state funds.

Sara Netanyahu was sentenced by a Jerusalem magistrates’ court on Sunday after she agreed to a plea bargain that ended the years-long saga of just one of the high-profile corruption cases involving the prime minister’s family.

The court ruling settled allegations that Mrs Netanyahu had misused some $100,000 in state money on lavish meals.

She was indicted on charges of fraud and breach of trust last year after the state attorney’s office accused her of running up large tabs at luxury restaurants while the official residence employed a full-time chef between 2010 and 2013.

The settlement saw her admit to a more minor charge of “intentionally exploiting the mistake of someone else”, specifically by misleading officials who did not realise she already benefited from chefs on the government payroll.

Under the terms of the bargain, Mrs Netanyahu agreed to pay $2,800 in fines and hand the remaining $12,500 back to the state. The settlement also reduced the overspending charge to $50,000.

Ms Netanyahu’s lawyer, Yossi Cohen, portrayed his client as a victim, saying she had “been put through hell” for the past four years with a public shaming campaign that was due only to her public standing.

The prime minister and his wife have a reputation for leading indulgent lives at public expense, which is out of touch with most Israelis.

Ms Netanyahu (60) in particular has been accused of excessive spending, using public money for her private, extravagant tastes and for abusive behaviour towards her personal staff.

In 2016, a court ruled Mrs Netanyahu mistreated a housecleaner and awarded the man $42,000 in damages. – PA