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France: businessman behind ‘fraud of the century’ donated $1m to Netanyahu

September 26, 2023 at 2:22 pm

French businessman Arnaud Mimran on May 25, 2016 [BERTRAND GUAY/AFP via Getty Images]

A French-Israeli associate of Benjamin Netanyahu who gained notoriety for carrying out the “fraud of the century” and is suspected of ordering a triple murder, claims to have paid the Israeli prime minister €1 million ($1.06m). Arnaud Mimran also reportedly financed a vacation for the Israeli prime minister and his wife.

The shocking claim was made by the French-Israeli businessman who is currently in prison for major tax fraud amounting to over €200m. Mimran funded lavish vacations for Netanyahu and his wife Sara. Details of his claims were released by the French website Mediapart and have been reported widely by Israeli newspapers. The allegations are based on recordings of Mimran from his prison cell.

According to Haaretz, Mimran is serving two concurrent sentences: 13 years for abduction, unlawful confinement and extortion against a Swiss-Turkish businessman; and eight years for his involvement in the evasion of taxes payable to the European Union, a crime described in France as “the fraud of the century”. He is also suspected of ordering the murder of three people involved in the transaction.

Mimran disclosed details of the numerous occasions when he hosted Netanyahu, treating him to opulent dinners and lavish vacations. This was not just his indulgence; Mimran used such occasions strategically as opportunities to strengthen and advance his business connections.

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In addition to dinners and holidays, Mimran alleges that he went even further with his generosity. He says that he covered the costs of Netanyahu’s accommodation in luxury hotels and splashed out on gourmet meals for him. Moreover, he didn’t stop at hospitality. He also claims to have showered Netanyahu with gifts, such as high-end watches, and contends that he was always ready to do unlimited favours for the prime minister.

“When I had to work with someone, I’d invite him for a meal with Netanyahu,” said Mimran. “I organised dinner in Monaco every day, and each time I invited the person I wanted to further my business with. All the finance people, the Jews I wanted to work with – bingo. They saw me at my best.” He said that Netanyahu “did whatever [I] wanted” before claiming that that he’d given Netanyahu a million euros through another businessman.

Netanyahu firmly denies the claims. “Only Israeli media could quote such delusional lies by a convicted criminal who is in prison, only in order to harm Prime Minister Netanyahu,” said the Likud leader.

The Mimran recordings also mention French MP Meyer Habib, another Netanyahu confidant. Mimran alleges that he helped Habib get elected and make money over 20 years. Habib also denies his claims.

Nevertheless, while Netanyahu denies financial links, he admits receiving $40,000 from Mimran in 2001 as a private citizen.

The Israeli prime minister was indicted in three separate corruption cases involving allegations of bribery, fraud and breach of trust. The charges relate to Netanyahu allegedly accepting lavish gifts from businessmen in exchange for political favours, trying to secure favourable media coverage through regulatory benefits, and providing favours to a telecom company.