Israeli police recommend charging FM in fresh corruption probe

Israeli police has recommended charging Foreign Minister in corruption probe.

Jerusalem: Israeli police on Monday recommended charging Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and another senior diplomat in a fresh corruption probe.

Police had been investigating whether Israel`s former ambassador to Belarus, Zeev Ben Arieh, had handed Lieberman a confidential document related to another investigation into the foreign minister.

"Police have decided to recommend indicting Ben Arieh in the case of transferring secret material to Lieberman," police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.

"We also recommended charging Lieberman for breach of public trust," he said. The Attorney General must still decide whether to accept police recommendations, a process that sometimes extends months.

Last August, police recommended indicting the tough-talking firebrand foreign minister on charges of bribery, money laundering and obstruction of justice.

Lieberman, who leads the ultra-nationalist Yisrael Beitenu, the second largest party in the ruling coalition, has denied any wrongdoing and claimed the police investigation is politically motivated.

The latest recommendation relates to a document Ben Arieh allegedly gave to Lieberman during the latter`s visit to Minsk in October 2008, believed to be a request from the Justice Ministry for the Belarus government to inspect bank accounts and interview people.

Lieberman later appointed Ben Arieh to an advisory post after becoming Israel`s chief diplomat following elections in the spring of 2009.

Lieberman is suspected of receiving about USD 2.5 million in illegal campaign donations through bank accounts opened by his daughter in Cyprus.

He has faced several investigations since 1996, none of which came to anything, but has said he will resign if charged with anything.

Lieberman, a Soviet-born former bouncer, has long courted controversy with his hardline stance on Israel`s Arab minority, with critics accusing him of racism.


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