Israeli Foreign Minister Faces Raft of Corruption Charges

By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 3, 2009 7:34 AM CDT
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Hillary Clinton hold a joint news conference after their meeting at the State Department in Washington, Wednesday, June 17, 2009.    (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
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(Newser) – Israeli police have recommended the indictment of the country's foreign minister for bribery, money laundering, and other corruption charges, Haaretz reports. Avigdor Lieberman, who leads the ultranationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party and was kingmaker in February's closely-run election, has been under investigation for years and is accused of funneling cash to a chain of front companies and bank accounts even after he became a minister. If charged and convicted he faces 31 years in jail.

Although Lieberman continues to proclaim his innocence, he said he would resign as both foreign minister and party leader if he is indicted. His departure could lead to a less right-wing Israeli government, although it may take time before charges are filed. As the Guardian observes, Lieberman is hardly the first Israeli politician accused of corruption; Ehud Olmert, the former PM, is still under investigation for his own business dealings.