Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Wife Put on Trial for Fraud, Breach of Trust
Sara Netanyahu (centre) with her husband and Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu (r) (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Israeli’s Benjamin Netanyahu is no stranger to controversy. In the latest incident, Netanyahu’s wife, Sara, has been put on a trial for fraud, in which she is alleged to have misused state funds in ordering catered meals.

According to the indictment, Sara Netanyahu, along with a government employee, fraudulently obtained from the state more than $100,000 for hundreds of meals supplied by restaurants, bypassing regulations that prohibit the practice if a cook is employed at home.

Under Israeli law, if there is no cook in the PM's residence, it is permissible to order prepared food. But prosecutors say the Netanyahu family had a cook in the house and yet still ordered the food, with Israeli taxpayers footing the bill.

In addition, Sara Netanyahu used state funds to pay waiters to serve the meals on weekends and during private events, according to prosecutors, who said the hand-picked waiters were registered as "extra manpower" or "cleaners" to hide the fact that they were being illegally employed.

Police transcripts leaked in the media also reveal her using expletive-laden language to refer to her staff.

Netanyahu’s lawyers have argued she was oblivious to the regulations and that the meals were ordered by an assistant and served to visiting dignitaries. "It's the first time in Israel and in the world that the wife of a leader is put on trial for food entrees," her legal team said in a statement in response to the indictment. "There was no fraud, no breach of trust or any other felony. We're certain in the end that justice will speak. Truth and logic will prevail."

Netanyahu has long faced allegations of extravagant spending and abusive behaviour. In 2016, a court ruled she abused a housekeeper and awarded the man $42,000 in damages. Other former employees have also claimed mistreatment and accused her of charging the state for her private and lavish tastes, including pink champagne and other luxuries.

If convicted, Sara Netanyahu could face a maximum sentence of five years behind bars for the most serious charge, though that appears unlikely.