Netanyahu confidant to testify for the state in graft case

JERUSALEM • A confidant of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has agreed to provide testimony on behalf of the state about alleged corrupt dealings between the government and the country's biggest telecommunications group, Israeli media reported yesterday.

Mr Shlomo Filber, who was arrested this week along with top executives at Bezeq Telecom, had been a personal appointment of Mr Netanyahu's to head the Communications Ministry.

Police now suspect Bezeq received regulatory benefits and in return, Mr Netanyahu received favourable media coverage on a popular news website that is controlled by Bezeq's former chairman. Bezeq executives have denied the allegations.

Israel's Ynet news website reported that Mr Filber has now agreed to testify for the state in the case, a development that could further complicate things for Mr Netanyahu as he battles mounting corruption allegations.

The Israeli authorities were not immediately available to confirm that a deal with Mr Filber had been reached.

On Tuesday, police alleged that Mr Netanyahu's former spokesman tried to bribe a judge to drop a fraud case against Mr Netanyahu's wife. Mr Netanyahu himself is a suspect in two other investigations.

The right-wing leader - in office for 12 years since 1996 - has denied wrongdoing in any of the cases, calling them a political "witch hunt".

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 22, 2018, with the headline 'Netanyahu confidant to testify for the state in graft case'. Print Edition | Subscribe