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Israel’s Former Foreign Minister Liberman Indicted for Fraud

Former Israeli Minister for Foreign Affairs Avigdor Lieberman
Former Israeli Minister for Foreign Affairs Avigdor Lieberman. Photographer: Georges Gobet/AFP/Getty Images

Dec. 30 (Bloomberg) -- Avigdor Liberman, who resigned as Israeli foreign minister two weeks ago, was indicted today in the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court on charges of fraud and breach of trust.

The charges come less than a month before Israeli general elections scheduled for Jan. 22. Liberman merged his Yisrael Beitenu party with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud faction two months ago to form the joint Likud-Beitenu list, which leads in voter surveys.

The case stems from Liberman’s involvement in the appointment of Ze’ev Ben Arye as Israel’s ambassador to Latvia, according to a copy of the indictment sent by e-mail from the Justice Ministry. Ben Arye, a former envoy to Belarus, had allegedly passed confidential information to Liberman concerning a criminal investigation being conducted there against him.

Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, who was ousted from Yisrael Beitenu by Liberman earlier this month, is expected to serve as a key prosecution witness, Haaretz newspaper reported.

A guilty verdict could disqualify Liberman from holding political office in the next government, depending on the severity of the sentence.

To contact the reporter on this story: Calev Ben-David in Jerusalem at cbendavid@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net

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