Netanyahu’s cousin and benefactor Nathan Milikowsky dies at 78

The Jewish-American business entangled in the corruption cases of his cousin, former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, passed away on Wednesday at the age of 78.

Nathan Milikowsky’s death was confirmed by the ex-premier turned opposition chairman on Twitter.

“Nathan Milikowsky, my beloved cousin, passed away last night after a long illness,” Netanyahu tweeted.

“Nathan was the eldest cousin of our clan — incredibly wise, unfailingly kind, always curious, always searching. He spent his last years fighting a horrible disease with the same courage and tenacity that he showed throughout his life,” Netanyahu wrote.

“He will stay forever in our hearts. I will miss him as a brother,” he added.

Milikowsky is survived by his wife and two daughters. Throughout his business career, he served as top executive and invested in a number of firms that produced raw materials in the US and Israel.

In his later years, he was most prominently known for his relationship with Netanyahu.

The latter is accused of accepting $300,000 from Milikowsky while serving as prime minister and was asked last week by the High Court of Justice to explain why the money should not be considered an illicit gift.

The High Court said the opposition chair — along with the attorney general and the State Comptroller’s Office — must explain why a Permits Committee decision requiring Netanyahu to return only 10 percent of the total funds gifted from Milikowsky should not be annulled. The committee decided in 2019 that Netanyahu did not have to return the rest of the money on the grounds that it was used in the legal defense of his wife, Sara Netanyahu. But the petition heard by the top legal body rejected that compromise.

Former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and head of the Likud party leads a faction meeting in the Israeli parliament on June 21, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/FLASH90)

Netanyahu faces fraud and breach of trust charges in a case involving illicit gifts received from other wealthy benefactors.

Milikowsky was reportedly questioned by police in the investigation, known as Case 1000, in which the prime minister is suspected of receiving some NIS 1 million ($282,000), most of it in cigars and champagne.

Netanyahu reportedly claimed that some of the cigars he was alleged to have received he bought with his own money, while others he purchased with cash given to him by Milikowsky.

Separately, reports in 2019 suggested Netanyahu made a return of over 700 percent on stocks in Seadrift Coke, a steel company owned by Milikowsky that sold to Thyssenkrupp before it merged with GrafTech, also owned by Milikowski.

Netanyahu bought the shares for $600,000 in 2007 and then sold them back in 2010 to Milikowsky for $4.3 million shortly after the merger. The dramatic profit has led to speculation of possible impropriety in Netanyahu’s financial dealings.

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