Benjamin Netanyahu Denies French Jewish Fraud Suspect Gave $1M for Campaign

PARIS (JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denied the claims of a French Jewish man standing trial for fraud that he gave Netanyahu more than $1 million for an election campaign.

Arnaud Mimran, who allegedly defrauded the European Union of about $315 million along with several partners, testified Thursday in a Paris court that he gave Netanyahu the money in 2001, the RTL broadcaster reported.

“I financed him to the tune of about 1 million euros,” he said.

Netanyahu told Haaretz the claims are “a total lie.”

Israeli law limits donations to parties and politicians running for office to approximately $4,000. Prosecutors do not intend to pursue the issue since it does not violate French law, Haaretz reported.

In March, Netanyahu’s office denied claims made by Mimran that he allowed Netanyahu to use a large apartment in Paris, according to Fabrice Arfi, a journalist for the Mediapart news site. Arfi shared the findings of his investigation with Haaretz, which published a report about it.

Netanyahu had used the apartment on Victor Hugo Avenue since the early 2000s, according to the report. He and Mimran were photographed together in Monaco, near France, in 2003 when Netanyahu was Israel’s finance minister and Mimran was already suspected of crimes separate from the ones for which he is on trial.

In 2000, Mimran was investigated on suspicion of insider trading in the United States and agreed, together with his partners, to pay a fine of $1.2 million, Haaretz reported. He also donated an unspecified amount of money to Likud officials in France, the report said based on findings shared by Mediapart with Haaretz.

Mimran, who was convicted of tax offenses in France in the late 1990s, is accused of using front companies to collect value added tax returns from France on carbon emissions permits that he bought from countries that did not collect VAT on them, such as the Netherlands.

Known as the carbon emissions scam, it is believed to have caused billions in damages in 2009 by fraudulently exploiting the differences in how industrialized nations encouraged reducing emission of greenhouse gases.

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