The Israeli Police’s recommendation to prosecute Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in two cases of bribery and fraud includes the name of Indian industrialist Ratan Tata, Ynetnews reported on Wednesday.
Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan reportedly tried to promote a free trade zone on the Israel-Jordan border as part of his partnership with Tata, the Israeli media outlet said. The project, which the Israeli Police said was against the advice of the country’s defence establishment, would have generated “huge profits” but was scrapped because of the security costs Israel would incur.
However, Tata’s office said that the references to the industrialist in the Ynetnews report were both “factually incorrect and appear to be motivated”. The industrialist received a proposal in 2009 to help build a low-volume automotive assembly plant on the banks of the Jordan river, the statement said. “The intention was to provide skilled employment to Palestinians.” However, the discussions on the project, which eventually did not take off, were held between a Tata team and Israeli authorities, and not with Milchan, the industrialist’s representative claimed. “Mr Tata wishes to clarify once again that there has never been any partnership in any such project with Mr Milchan.”
Israeli media had reported in 2017 that Tata testified before Israeli police officials about his alleged links with Milchan’s project during a trip to Tel Aviv. “During Mr Tata’s visit to Tel Aviv, on November 1, 2017, to address a conference on Mobility, he met a team of Israeli investigators at their request, and enunciated these facts to them,” the industrialist’s representative said.
Netanyahu is accused of accepting gifts from Milchan in exchange for helping him get a United States visa. He also allegedly tried to influence coverage in Yedioth Ahronoth, Israel’s largest newspaper, in exchange for help with slowing the growth of a rival paper.