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Hollywood mogul implicated in Netanyahu graft probe wins big with Bohemian Rhapsody

Arnon Milchan poses for photographers upon arrival at the premiere of the film 'Widows' showing as part of the opening gala of the BFI London Film Festival in London, Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018.
Photo by Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP
Police recommended Milchan for indictment on bribery offenses alongside Netanyahu last February

A Hollywood mogul implicated in a bribery probe alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saw his latest film production, Bohemian Rhapsody, win top prizes at Sunday's Golden Globes.

Beating out the heavily favored A Star Is Born, the Freddie Mercury biopic won big, nabbing the golden prizes for best film drama and best drama actor for star Rami Malek.

The movie’s executive producer, Arnon Milchan, is currently embroiled in the Israeli Attorney General’s investigation into numerous corruption probes involving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Milchan, an Israeli billionaire businessman and film producer, was recommended for indictment alongside the premier for bribery offenses in February 2018.

In “Case 1000”--the first of many cases in which Netanyahu has been recommended for indictment-- police allege the prime minister accepted around 1 million shekels ($280,000) worth of luxury gifts from a number of wealthy benefactors - including Israeli entertainment mogul Arnon Milchan - in exchange for favorable government treatment.

Police allege that Netanyahu and his wife accepted Milchan’s expensive presents-- including high-end cigars, champagne, and jewelry--and in return initiated a favorable tax break and assisted the billionaire with securing a US visa. 

Mark RALSTON (AFP)

The recommendation for indictment cites an Israeli Parliament tax exemption, colloquially nicknamed “Milchan’s Law” by local media, which significantly altered the Israeli tax code to benefit wealthy Israelis who lived outside the country but held returning resident status.

Just last week, Israeli media reported that the US Justice Department denied a request from Israeli officials to question former secretary of state John Kerry and former Israel envoy Dan Shapiro in connection with the probe.

Netanyahu is also accused of helping Milchan obtain a US visa, among other charges. In order to do this, investigators say the Israeli premier would have had to ask either Kerry or Shapiro for help.

“It’s ridiculous. Milchan has contributed a lot to the American economy. Give him a visa,” Haaretz quotes Netanyahu as saying to Kerry during a phone call regarding the US-led regional peace process.

Haaretz reported that Netanyahu admitted to helping Milchan during one of his interrogations, but the PM said he only did so in response to the billionaire’s assistance in matters of Israel’s security.

AP Photo/Ronen Zvulun, Pool

Israel’s Attorney General Mandelblit is currently examining police recommendations for Netanyahu’s indictment for bribery and corruption in at least three separate cases -- dubbed Cases 1000, 2000, and 4000.

“Case 2,000” centers on an alleged arrangement with Yedioth Ahronoth publisher Arnon Mozes to limit circulation of the newspaper's main rival in exchange for more favorable coverage.

In “Case 4000”, police suspect that Netanyahu granted regulatory benefits to telecommunications giant Bezeq in exchange for positive news coverage by the Walla news website, which is owned by Bezeq’s controlling shareholder.

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