U.S. Stonewalls Israel on Info About Netanyahu’s Stock Portfolio in Potential New Probe

Israeli law enforcement officials are having difficulty getting information they’ve requested from their U.S. counterparts regarding Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s buying and selling of shares in a company owned by his cousin, Haaretz has learned.

The request was made several months ago, but U.S. authorities are dragging their feet in providing the information, which is meant to help Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit decide whether a criminal investigation should be launched.

– Annexation vexation comes between Bibi and the settlers

LISTEN: Annexation vexation comes between Bibi and the settlersHaaretz

A source familiar with the request to the American authorities said, “There is no evidence that the delay in receiving answers is politically motivated, but it is certainly exceptional and makes one wonder.”

The questions relate to Netanyahu’s sale of the shares in the SeaDrift company, which was owned by his cousin, Nathan Milikowsky. According to documents submitted to the State Comptroller’s Office, in 2010 Netanyahu earned millions of dollars from the sale. According to a source familiar with the case, “The answers from the United States are meant to help Mendelblit understand whether in the story of the purchase and sale of the shares there’s a suspicion of criminal violations by Netanyahu, or whether the issue doesn’t warrant an investigation.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cousin, Nathan Milikowsky, in 2017.John Lamparski / WireImage / Get

Netanyahu is now on trial in three separate cases involving bribery, fraud and breach of trust. In the past Haaretz reported that the Trump administration had prevented Israeli authorities from taking testimony from former Secretary of State John Kerry and former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro regarding one of the cases, the lavish gifts case, known as Case 1000. Netanyahu allegedly asked Kerry and Shapiro to extend a visa for tycoon Arnon Milchan, who gave Netanyahu thousands of shekels worth of benefits and gifts, including expensive cigars and champagne.

The stock case came to light when Netanyahu requested permission from the permits committee, which operates in the State Comptroller’s Office, to raise millions of shekels for his legal defense in the three cases from wealthy American associates – his cousin Milikowsky and Spencer Partrich. The committee asked Netanyahu to submit a wealth declaration so they could evaluate his financial situation and determine whether he had the means to fund his own defense.

The prime minister refused to submit the declaration. Then State Comptroller Joseph Shapira did not submit precise details to the committee, writing only, “Based on wealth declarations that Netanyahu has submitted to the comptroller’s office in the past, it’s clear that he’s a wealthy man.”