A confidant of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has agreed to provide testimony against the Israeli leader himself about alleged corrupt dealings between the government and the country's biggest telecoms group, Israeli media reported Wednesday.
Shlomo Filber, who was arrested this week along with top executives at Bezeq Telecom, had been personally appointed to head the Communications Ministry by Netanyahu.
Police now suspect Bezeq received regulatory benefits, and in return, Netanyahu received favorable media coverage on a popular news website that is also controlled by Bezeq's former chairman. The Bezeq executives have denied the allegations.
Israel's Ynet news website reported that Filber has now agreed to testify for the state in the case, a development that could further complicate things for Netanyahu as he battles mounting corruption allegations.
A day earlier police said that Netanyahu's former spokesman tried to bribe a judge to drop a fraud case against Netanyahu's wife.
Last week Israeli media reported that police have already recommended to the country’s prosecutor that the prime minister be indicted over two corruption cases. Netanyahu faces charges over bribery and corruption in at least three cases dubbed Cases 1,000, 2,000, and 3,000.
The first one involves his wife Sara and he receiving illegal gifts from Israeli billionaires in exchange for favors, as the case with Israeli-born Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan who gifted the family hundreds of thousands of shekels’ worth of cigars and champagne.
Case 2000 involves a suspected illicit quid pro quo deal between Netanyahu and Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper publisher Arnon Mozes in which the right-wing leader offered to limit the circulation of Israel Hayom, a free, pro-Netanyahu daily owned and published by U.S. billionaire and Republican party donor Sheldon Adelson, if Mozes gave the prime minister more favorable coverage.
A third case, Case 3000, surfaced last summer and is said to involve close members of the prime minister’s family and illegalities in the purchase of multibillion-dollar submarines, in what former officials have called one of the biggest corruption scandals in the country’s history.
The Bezeq Telecom is now known as Case 4000, the latest in Netanyahu’s list of corruption possible charges. 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".