James Packer, the Australian billionaire and major shareholder in Crown Resorts, is being looked into by Israeli authorities. The investigation was triggered by numerous gifts and benefits Packer extended to the Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu.
Bad Year for James Packer
The investigation by Israeli authorities is certainly not what Packer needed to end this year. The entire 2016 hasn’t been too kind on the Australian billionaire. He first had to sell a substantial number of his shares in Crown Resorts to settle a debt. Then, his partner Mariah Carey walked away. Finally, just recently authorities of China have arrested 18 Crowns employees for gambling related offences. That case is still ongoing.
Special Treatment for Prime Minister and His Family
According to Channel 10 reports, Packer has been more than generous with Prime Minister Netanyahu and his family. He provided them with tickets for Mariah Carey show, allowed Yair Netanyahu, Benjamin Netanyahu’s son, to use his Tel Aviv apartment, and more.
While this alone could be overlooked, the Israelis are looking into the motives behind the billionaire’s generosity. According to some sources, Packer is looking to gain permanent residency in Israel. This would bring many tax breaks for the wealthy Australian.
Just Gifts or Something Else?
Jacob Weinroth, who used to be Netanyahu’s personal attorney, now represents Packer. Allegedly, Weinroth met with the Israeli Interior Minister Arye Dery to discuss the billionaire’s residency situation. The Interior Minister has the power to grant permanent residency permits for non-Jewish persons if he so chooses.
Given Packer’s keen interest in receiving the permanent residency, it isn’t unnatural a few eyebrows were raised among Israeli authorities. If all these gifts and benefits have an ulterior motive, they could be seen as a bribe. This could cause some serious complications for the billionaire.
In light of these recent developments, Netanyahu’s spokesman responded on behalf of the Prime Minister. He emphasized James Packer was a close friend of Netanyahu and his family and that was the only reason he served as their host on several occasions. Other things, like gifts and the fact Yair Netanyahu used Packer’s personal jet several times were not mentioned.