Israel foreign minister 'faces graft charges'

Justice ministry informs Avigdor Lieberman that he may be indicted for alleged corruption, according to Israeli media.

    Lieberman faces allegations of corruption but denies any wrongdoing [GALLO/GETTY]

    Avigdor Lieberman, Israel's foreign minister, has been told he faces criminal corruption charges and may be indicted.

    Israel's attorney-general informed Lieberman on the impending charges on Wednesday, according to a report on Israel's Channel Two television.

    An earlier statement from Israel's justice ministry said: "The offenses on which his being brought to trial is being considered are fraud, breach of trust, receiving something by deception, money-laundering and tampering with a witness."

    Lieberman, who heads the Yisrael Beiteinu party, has been under investigation on a variety of charges for many years.

    He has always denied any wrongdoing.

    Lieberman was informed of the attorney-general's statement during a party convention in Jerusalem and at the end of a half-hour speech about Israeli domestic and foreign policy, he briefly referred to the indictment.

    "I know and you know that I always acted in accordance with the law, and there is no reason for worry," he said.

    "After 15 years, I finally will have an opportunity to prove that I acted lawfully."

    Allegations against Lieberman centre on the transfer of millions of shekels to what police described as shell companies and accounts belonging to people close to him.

    Police had also alleged that Israel's ambassador to Belarus had leaked information to Lieberman about the proceedings against him.

    As a minister, Lieberman is entitled to a hearing, but if he chooses to forego the hearing he would be expected to resign his post and the case could proceed to trial.

    His resignation would badly shake the cabinet of Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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