Two Ex-Allies Incriminate FM

The abrupt turnabout in the long investigation of FM Lieberman came about when documentation allegedly showing Cypriot bank deposits was found.

Tags: Anat Kam
Hillel Fendel ,

Ex-MK Nudelman provided the evidence
Ex-MK Nudelman provided the evidence
Israel news photo:

The abrupt turnabout in the eight-year-investigation of Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman came about with the revelation of an envelope of documentation allegedly showing the bank deposits made by Lieberman in his foreign bank account in Cyprus.

The police finally announced on Sunday that they had completed their criminal investigation of Lieberman and were issuing a formal recommendation to indict him on charges of accepting bribes, fraud, breach of trust, money laundering and other offenses. Lieberman responded with confidence that the police have been pursuing him personally for 12 years.

The envelope in question was given over to the police by none other than two former allies of Lieberman: Ex-Knesset Member Michael Nudelman and Lieberman’s former aide David Edelman, both of the Russian immigrant community. It is not clear whether Lieberman or someone representing him forgot the envelope there, or if someone who wished to incriminate Lieberman placed it there. In any event, it is believed that the police were on their way to closing the case for lack of evidence – until this envelope was found.

Nudelman explained to Army Radio on Monday morning that he arrived in his office one morning and found the envelope on his desk. He said that though it seemed to clear to him what the documents indicated, he asked a friend of his who was “more familiar with the laws” to take a look at them. When the full significance became clear to him and Edelman, they brought the material to the State Comptroller’s office, from where it quickly made its way to the police.

Lieberman’s daughter Michal, whom the police have already recommended indicting, and his lawyer are suspected of making the actual money transfers to the Cypriot bank – under the orchestration of Lieberman himself, the police say.

Though the police took years to formulate their recommendations, the State Prosecution and Attorney General Menachem Mazuz are expected to make the final decision on indictment relatively quickly – a matter of months. “Mazuz and his office have been following the investigation very closely all along,” said former Police Investigations Chief Yossi Sedbon, “and they therefore don’t need to begin studying the case from scratch. I assume that by the end of the year, the decision will be made.”

Nudelman's Zig-Zags
Lieberman’s former ally Nudelman, who provided the incriminating information, has switched political alliances more than once. He began his political career in the 14th Knesset (1996) in Natan Sharansky’s Yisrael B’Aliyah party, from which he resigned shortly before the 1999 elections. In 1999, he ran with Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitenu (Israel Our Home) party, which later joined up with the Zionist-nationalist National Union party. In the 16th Knesset, he quit the joint list to form his own single-MK faction, voting in favor of the Disengagement. He was appropriately rewarded by Ariel Sharon with a spot on his newly-formed Kadima party list and the chairmanship of the Knesset Immigration and Absorption Committee. He does not serve in the current Knesset.

Lieberman is not expected to resign as Foreign Minister in the near future – though he will have to do so if indicted.  Potential successors include Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, of Lieberman’s party; former Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom of the Likud; and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who may decide to avoid making a decision on the matter by keeping the portfolio for himself.