Arnaud Mimran, the Jewish tycoon accused of stealing millions from the French government, has claimed during his trial that he paid one million euros towards an election campaign run by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, far above the cap set by Israeli law.
Mr Mimran made the statement on Thursday in a Paris court, where he stands accused of stealing at least 282 million euros from the French Finance Ministry by rolling over value-added tax in deals relating to carbon dioxide capping.
The businessman’s close relations with Benjamin Netanyahu came up during a court discussion about whether senior figures have protected him from prosecution.
Under Israeli law, a Knesset candidate is entitled to accept donations from any individual totalling no more than NIS 11,480 ($2,970). In elections for leadership of a party or in internal party primaries, in which there are more than 50,000 voters, a candidate can accept individual donations of up to NIS 45,880 ($11,870).
A joint investigation by Haaretz and the French website Mediapart, published last month, alleged that Mr Mimran financed vacations for Netanyahu and his family in the Alps and on the French Riviera.
In addition to these expenses, Mr Mimran has now testified that he signed a cheque for financing an earlier Netanyahu election campaign, in 2001, as far as he remembered. “I financed him to the tune of about one million euros,” he said.
Mr Netanyahu vehemently denied Mr Mimran’s claims.