JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife, Sara, was charged on Thursday with fraud over the alleged misuse of state funds in ordering catered meals at their official residence, the Justice Ministry said.
The indictment charged that Netanyahu, along with a government employee, fraudulently obtained more than $100,000 for hundreds of meals supplied by restaurants, bypassing regulations prohibiting the practice if a cook is employed at the home.
Sara Netanyahu denies any wrongdoing.
She was charged with fraud and breach of trust and of aggravated fraudulent receipt of goods, according to the indictment released by the Justice Ministry to the media.
If convicted, she could face up to five years behind bars.
The prime minister, who himself is embroiled in a series of corruption investigations, has called the allegations against his wife absurd and unfounded.
Sara Netanyahu’s lawyers said the indictment was “ludicrous.” They said in a statement that others had ordered the meals and that the restrictions on ordering food in were invalid.
“There was no fraud or breach of trust or fraudulent receipt of items, or any other offence. The prime minister’s wife, who is not a public servant, did not know the procedures and was found to have spoken truthfully when answering questions during a lie detector test,” the statement said.
Sara Netanyahu, 59, has inspired a multitude of headlines in the past over what family spokesmen call an undeserved reputation for imperiousness.
It seemed unlikely the latest case could cause significant political damage to her husband, now in his fourth term as Israel’s leader and riding high in opinion polls despite the allegations against him.
Writing by Maayan Lubell and Ori Lewis, editing by Jeffrey Heller/Mark Heinrich