A controversial Canadian-Israeli businessman reportedly paid over half a million shekels (some $140,000) into the bank account of a consulting firm set up by Ari Harow in 2010, two days after Harow ended a stint as bureau chief to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
California-born Harow is now a state’s witness providing Israel Police with evidence in two sets of corruption allegations against Netanyahu, who denies any wrongdoing. Harow turned state’s witness under a deal last month to avoid prosecution for fraud and breach of trust; under its terms he will not serve jail time and will pay a fine of 700,000 shekels ($200,000), police said.
Israel’s Yedioth Ahronoth daily reported on Thursday that an unknown billionaire Jewish businessman had made the NIS 545,000 payment to Harow, and quoted sources “close to the investigation” saying that money was paid in order to “advance the interests” of this businessman in the Prime Minister’s Office. When it turned out that Harow could not “deliver the goods,” the businessman demanded his money back, the newspaper report said.
The TV report said Jacobson — whom it said made his fortune processing credit card payments on the internet — claims to be close to Netanyahu. It featured a Canadian television interview with Jacobson in which he confirmed having introduced Israeli ministers to their Canadian counterparts. Jacobson has also been reported in the past to have claimed to have ties to senior Mossad members. The TV report said Jacobson was a suspect in an ongoing Israeli bribery investigation. It did not feature any comment from Jacobson.On Friday, Israel’s Channel 10 News named the businessman in question as Nathan Jacobson. It said Harow has claimed that the money was paid to his 3H Global consulting firm for advice. Yedioth published an invoice for “consulting” issued by Harow’s firm for the payments.
Harow — who went back to work for Netanyahu in 2014, and left again the following January — is reportedly providing ongoing testimony in two cases against Netanyahu.
In Case 1000, Netanyahu is suspected of receiving illicit gifts from billionaire benefactors, most notably hundreds of thousands of shekels’ worth of cigars and champagne from the Israeli-born Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan.
Case 2000 involves a suspected illicit quid pro quo deal between Netanyahu and Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper publisher Arnon “Noni” Mozes that would have seen the prime minister advance legislation to hobble a rival daily, the Sheldon Adelson-backed Israel Hayom, in return for more favorable coverage from Yedioth.
In 2010, between his two stints in the Prime Minister’s Office, Harow founded 3H Global, an international government relations firm based in Israel. According to the company’s website, the firm was set up “to help governments, NGOs and businesses.”
When Harow was appointed Netanyahu’s chief of staff for the second time, he gave up control of the company to his brother Josh Harow.
Harow first worked for Netanyahu as foreign affairs adviser when the Likud party leader was head of the opposition. Harow then spearheaded the 2009 election campaign that catapulted Netanyahu back into office. After the election, he served as the prime minister’s bureau chief until 2010, managing Netanyahu’s schedule and advising him on a range of issues.
Channel 2 TV has reported that Harow was sent by Netanyahu to finalize the alleged deal with Yedioth Ahronoth publisher Mozes, giving him — and police — firsthand knowledge of the suspected agreement. Harow has reportedly given police details on the understandings reached between Netanyahu and Mozes, strengthening the police case beyond audio recordings discovered on Harow’s computer of the meetings between the prime minister and the publisher in late 2014 and early 2015.