"For part of the Israeli establishment I am still 'Ivet the terrible," Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman said Sunday evening regarding the developments in the investigation launched against him on suspicion of taking a bribe, fraud and money laundering. Police have called the allegations "very severe."
Earlier Sunday, the police's National Fraud Investigations Unit detained seven of Lieberman's associates for questioning.
The Yisrael Beiteinu leader told an election rally in Nazareth-Ilit that police investigations launched against him before each Knesset election have become "routine," adding "part of the Israeli establishment sees me as a horrible criminal while (Arab Knesset Member Jamal) Zahalka is considered righteous."
Police suspect Lieberman of having taken hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of bribes while serving as a cabinet minister from 2001 to 2004. The bribes, which, according to the police, were paid by businessmen Martin Schlaff and Michael Chernoy, were allegedly transferred through companies owned by either Lieberman or his daughter, Michal Lieberman-Galon.
Police have asked to remand three of the seven suspects it had detained earlier in the day. The three were identified as Sharon Shalom (34), who served as Lieberman's advisor during his tenure as minister of infrastructure in 2002 and later in the Transportation Ministry; Andy Boiangiu, who headed the companies through which the funds had allegedly been transferred; and Lieberman's attorney, Yoav Many, who is suspected of abetting the alleged crimes.
Avi Cohen contributed to the report