Israel’s attorney general says he won’t probe Netanyahu, cousin share deal

TEL AVIV, Israel — Israel’s attorney general announced Thursday he is not launching a criminal investigation into a murky company share deal between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his cousin that netted the Israeli leader an exorbitant return on investments.

In a statement, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit said he isn’t pursuing a criminal investigation because of a lack of evidence. Mandelblit’s decision takes a weight off of Netanyahu, who is currently on trial for three other corruption affairs after being charged with fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes.

Netanyahu, whose trial begins evidentiary hearings in January, denies any wrongdoing.

Mandelblit’s decision caps a monthslong probe into the affair, which was also linked to a separate graft case related to a possible conflict of interest involving a $2 billion purchase of German submarines. Netanyahu was not deemed a suspect in that case but his close associates, including his personal attorney and cousin, are expected to be indicted.

According to Mandelblit’s statement, in 2007, Netanyahu bought shares, worth $600,000, of a holding company owned by his American cousin Nathan Milikowsky — only to sell them back to his cousin for $4.3 million in 2010 amid a sale of one of the holding company’s firms.

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