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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing a ‘criminal investigation’ over bribery and fraud claims after police were handed new documents in the case, it has emerged.

Police have been looking into the allegations for almost nine months and now believe they have cause to open a full investigation, according to reports.

The 67-year-old has denied the ‘nonsense’ claims, which he says have surfaced in an attempt to ‘bring his downfall’.

But detectives have applied for the go-ahead to investigate from Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit and want to start a formal probe into alleged bribe-taking and aggravated fraud, according to Haaretz.

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister told Haaretz: ‘It’s all nonsense. Since Netanyahu’s victory in the last elections and even before, hostile elements have used heroic efforts to attempt to bring about his downfall, with false accusations against him and his family.

‘This [latest attempt] is absolutely false. There was nothing and there will be nothing.