James Packer in Tel Aviv
James Packer owns a house next to former Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv

Israel authorises probe of ex-Mossad chief’s links to James Packer

The long tail to troubled billionaire James Packer’s fascination with Israel, playing footsie with that nation’s rich, powerful and elite, continues to wag, even though the Crown Resorts major shareholder has not set foot in the Jewish state since late 2016.

Latest news from the Middle East is that Israel’s Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit has ordered a probe of now-former Mossad director Yossi Cohen over a $US20,000 gift that the spy chief’s daughter received for her wedding from Packer.

Cohen retired from his high-profile role last month, but now State Attorney Amit Aisman has been asked to conduct a thorough investigation of the gift from Packer to Cohen, who was appointed as Israel’s head spy by former prime minister and close Packer friend Benjamin Netanyahu.

Cohen has previously acknowledged receipt of the gift, which he said he took after gaining internal legal advice on the matter. He has since said he will return Packer’s largesse.

Of course the gift and now investigation is not the first we have heard of the former Crown Resorts chairman’s connection to the Israeli spy agency.

Back in 2018 Packer’s generosity with Cohen prompted a separate probe into the motives behind his gift of tickets to ex-fiance Mariah Carey’s Israel concert in 2015.

Then there was the billionaire’s evidence to Patricia Bergin’s royal commission into Crown’s suitability to hold a casino licence in Sydney, relating to his negotiations with the so-called Mr X towards a potential privatisation of Crown in 2015.

Read the article by Melissa Yeo and Christine Lacy on Margin Call in The Australian.