Lieberman: "I'll resign if I'm charged"

By Jessica Elgot, August 3, 2009

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has announced that if fraud charges are brought against him then he will immediately resign.

But in a statement he said: "I believe that next year, and in two years, I will remain the (Yisrael Beiteinu) chairman and the foreign minister."

Israeli police recommended Mr Lieberman be charged with corruption, breach of trust, embezzlement and money-laundering, after a 13-year investigation.

Police have been investigating fake companies allegedly formed by Mr Lieberman and his partners, which they claim were used as fronts to launder money.

Mr Lieberman's daughter, Michal, has also been questioned by police in connection with the companies.
But Mr Lieberman, 50, the leader of the Yisrael Beiteinu party, has said the claims are politically motivated.

After the announcement came from the police, Mr Lieberman said: "In a country governed by civil laws, a person, even if he is a minister, is innocent until proven guilty.”

He added: “If they have real evidence, the investigation would not have taken more than 10 years. There is no basis for this indictment."

The Israeli attorney general will now decide whether to press charges against Mr Lieberman, following the police recommendations.

Just seven days after being sworn in to the new government in April, Mr Lieberman was held by police for seven hours of questioning over the charges.

Last updated: 12:52pm, August 3 2009