An ex-aide to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has signed a state witness deal in a corruption probe linked to his former boss, Israeli media reported Monday, dealing a new setback to the premier.
News of the agreement broke ahead of Netanyahu’s meeting with US President Donald Trump at the White House later Monday.
The widely reported agreement between Israeli authorities and Nir Hefetz, a former spokesman for the Netanyahu family, comes as corruption investigations into the prime minister intensify.
Israeli police provided no details on the reported agreement. Hefetz would be the third Netanyahu associate to sign a state witness deal in recent months.
An aide to Netanyahu immediately denounced the reports and proclaimed the long-serving prime minister’s innocence.
“When there’s something there, it doesn’t take even one state witness,” the aide said.
“And now, even a thousand state witnesses will not help.”
On Sunday, an Israeli court released Hefetz and telecoms mogul Shaul Elovitch and put them under house arrest after 14 days in custody.
Hefetz is alleged to have acted as a messenger between Netanyahu, Elovitch’s telecoms group Bezeq and news website Walla!, media reports say.
Police suspect Bezeq was given regulatory breaks in return for Netanyahu receiving positive coverage on Walla!, a news website owned by the telecoms group.
Hefetz is also suspected of trying to bribe a retired judge to block a probe into the prime minister’s wife, Sara Netanyahu, over alleged misuse of public funds, according to the reports.
Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that Hefetz had agreed to hand over recordings of Netanyahu and his wife as part of the state witness deal.
Last month, Israeli police recommended Netanyahu’s indictment on two other cases of alleged bribery. The attorney general is now considering how to move forward in those cases.
In one case, Netanyahu and family members are suspected of receiving one million shekels ($285,000, 230,000 euros) in gifts, including luxury cigars, champagne and jewellery, from wealthy figures in exchange for financial or personal favours.
In the other case, investigators suspect the premier of trying to reach an agreement with the owner of Yediot Aharonot newspaper for more favourable coverage.
Israeli media reported that Hefetz could also provide testimony in those two investigations.
The building investigations into Netanyahu’s affairs have raised questions over whether the 68-year-old will eventually have to step down.
He has been prime minister for a total of around 12 years.
The probes have also led to speculation in the Israeli media that he may opt for early elections in the coming months in a bid to bolster his standing before a decision on indictments is made.
Deutsche Bank Raided over Russian Money Laundering
A money laundering probe stemming from the “Panama Papers” has led police to Deutsche Bank, according to authorities. Prosecutors believe the bank helped clients “transfer money from criminal activities” to tax havens.
German Federal police on Thursday raided the Frankfurt offices of Deutsche Bank. The Frankfurt prosecutor’s office said the raids stemmed from an investigation into suspected money laundering at the German bank.
About 170 law enforcement agents took part in the operation. The investigation revolves around multiple Deutsche Bank employees, including two believed to still be working at the financial institution.
Deutsche Bank said it was “fully cooperating” with authorities. “The case is related to the Panama Papers,” a spokesperson said.
According to prosecutors, Deutsche Bank is suspected of helping some 900 customers setup offshore shell companies in tax havens to “transfer money from criminal activities.” They said some €311 million ($354 million) is believed to have been laundered, citing information gleaned from the so-called “Panama Papers.”
Markus Meinzer, financial secrecy director of the Tax Justice Network, has been quoted “surprised that German officials would finally take action” on information garnered from the “Panama Papers.”
“It has been two years that they’ve been analyzing these files,” Mainzer said. “We have seen in other situations that German prosecutors took very long to take action” against tax avoidance schemes and financial crimes.
The “Panama Papers” data leak comprised some 11.5 million documents and was leaked to German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung by an anonymous source in 2015. At least 28 German entities were identified in the leak, according to reports at the time, including Deutsche Bank.
Deutsche Bank has come under increased scrutiny for lax anti-money laundering mechanisms. In September, German financial regulator BaFin formally ordered the bank to do more to combat money laundering in its institutions.
BaFin also assigned an audit firm to assist the bank in fulfilling its regulatory requirements, saying Deutsche Bank needs to “take appropriate internal safeguards.”
In the past, Deutsche Bank has acknowledged that its anti-money laundering efforts have fallen short of financial rules. In August, it confirmed that even after it was fined for helping Russian clients wash some $10 billion (€8.8 billion), its mechanisms to stop such criminal activity were still ineff
Trump Threatens Acosta, Again
The White House has announced that despite a Judicial order restoring Acosta’s press pass, they will suspend it immediately after the order expires in 14 days.
According, to Brian Stelter of CNN, “Lawyers were already expected to be back in court this week to discuss the timeline for further proceedings. Unless there’s some sort of resolution, CNN will be arguing for a preliminary injunction. Here’s what CNN outside counsel Ted Boutrous told me on “Reliable Sources” before these new developments were known… “
The White House argues Acosta did not follow “basic standards” at a news conference when he scrapped with U.S. President Donald Trump.
In a court filing Monday, CNN said the administration was creating “retroactive due process.” The network tweeted that the White House “is continuing to violate the First and Fifth amendments of the Constitution.”
The @WhiteHouse is continuing to violate the First and Fifth amendments of the Constitution. These actions threaten all journalists and news organizations. @Acosta and CNN will continue to report the news about the White House and @realDonaldTrump https://t.co/knr1NpyMVv
— CNN Communications (@CNNPR) November 19, 2018
HORROR IN NYC: Did Saudi Government Assassins Kill Two Sisters?
Two Saudi Sisters Rotana and Tala Farea, whose bodies were found washed up along the Hudson river, may have been victims of Saudi government assassins according to a well placed source within NYPD. They were then killed only a day after they applied for asylum in the United States, scared to return to the oppressive Saudi regime.
Their mother said that the Saudi government had called them on October 23rd and threatened them with being taken back to Saudi Arabia (and most likely punished) because the sisters had applied for asylum in the United States.
The sisters’ bodies then were found the next day, ducted taped, dead washed on the shore of the Hudson River.
There is a Saudi Consulate in NYC at 866 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10017
Police have ruled out that the pair jumped from the George Washington Bridge in a suicide pact, a theory that was initially pushed out by police, because neither body had visible signs of trauma that would have occurred when they hit the water.
Tala was last seen on Aug. 24, according to a now-removed posting on the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s website. The alert said she might be with her sister.
A cause of death for the two women — both of Fairfax, Virginia — has not yet been determined.
This news comes the same day that we’ve learned that Washington Post Columnist, Jamal Khashoggi was strangled and dismembered in a Saudi Consulate in Turkey.
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