Israeli police are interrogating Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over suspicions that he systematically received favors and gifts worth tens of thousands of dollars from a number of wealthy Israeli and foreign businessmen.
Netanyahu, the 67 year old chairman of the Likud party will be questioned under caution at his official residence in occupied Jerusalem al-Quds on Monday evening.
Reports say the interview could last for several hours and there may be another meeting later in the week.
Press TV reports:
Photographers have camped outside his heavily guarded residence, hoping to get pictures of the investigators’ arrival. Meanwhile, screens have been mounted at the entrance to the property to block the view.
Israel Radio said Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit had authorized the move after he decided to upgrade a preliminary probe into a criminal one in the wake of sufficient evidence for such an investigation.
US billionaire and the president of World Jewish Congress, Ronald Lauder, is among those questioned in the probe over illegal gifts.
Netanyahu dismissed all allegations against him in a Facebook post at the weekend, arguing that some of the tycoons in question are his close friends.
The Israeli prime minister is currently under investigation for having accepted 1 million euros (about $1.1 million) from accused French fraudster Arnaud Mimran in the form of donations during his 2009 campaign.
Netanyahu has also come under scrutiny over a billion-dollar deal with Germany for the acquisition of three submarines. He faces allegations of a possible conflict of interest within his inner circle in making the deal.
Reports emerged last November that Netanyahu’s personal lawyer and one of his closest confidants, David Shimron, was representing the German arms manufacturer ThyssenKrupp, which is building the submarines.
Israel’s Channel 10 television network later disclosed an email it claimed was proof that Shimron had used his close relationship with Netanyahu to lobby for the deal.
A separate probe is also underway in Israel into accusations that Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, misused public funds for private expenses, ranging from laundry to ice cream.