Netanyahu Rejects Frenchman’s Claim of Illegal Donations

  • Israeli prime minister says received $40,000, not $1 million
  • Arnaud Mimran made claim during Paris trial on fraud charges

Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed as a “baseless lie” a French businessman’s claim that he contributed 1 million euros ($1,135,600) to the Israeli prime minister’s campaign coffers, a sum far above legal limits.

Israeli Attorney General Avihai Mandelblit ordered an investigation into the claim, made by Arnaud Mimran in a Paris courtroom where he’s being tried for fraud, Channel 10 TV reported Sunday. On Monday, Netanyahu issued a statement saying Mimran contributed $40,000 in 2001 to a fund that paid for his “public diplomacy travels for the benefit of the state of Israel.” Netanyahu did not hold any elective office at that time.

“The claim that Arnaud Mimran donated a million euros to Mr. Netanyahu’s election campaign is a baseless lie," according to the statement. “There was no contribution to Netanyahu’s election campaign.”

Mimram told Channel 10 in response later Monday that, in fact, he contributed a total of 170,000 euros in 2001, which he deposited directly into Netanyahu’s personal bank account.

Netanyahu’s finances have come under scrutiny in the past: State Comptroller Joseph Shapira issued a report last month saying a series of trips Netanyahu made as finance minister between 2003 and 2005 raised suspicions of criminal conduct because they were paid for by foreign governments and businesses. Mandelblit said he would prosecute the prime minister if the evidence warrants.

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