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Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Lindenstrauss says Peres donations 'unacceptable'

I think he's slimey enough to slip away, but why does this report not surprise me?

State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss said on Tuesday that he took a grave view of the size of the donations Shimon Peres received from three foreign contributors, to help finance his primary campaign for leadership of the Labor Party.

"I find the amount of money involved in the contributions to be unacceptable," he told The Jerusalem Post. "We are examining the matter intensively and after that, we will have to make a decision."

Lindenstrauss added that within a month, he would publish his report on election financing by the candidates in the primary campaign races. He also indicated that it would be a tough report. "We must make sure the law is upheld exactly as legislated by the Knesset," he said. "We must deal with these donations with an iron fist to make sure the law is observed."

According to figures published by the State Comptroller's Office on Sunday, Peres received donations of $100,000 each, from businessmen Haim Saban and Bruce Rappaport, and $120,000 from Daniel Abrams. The figures were provided by Peres himself.

However, a team of chartered accountants from the State Comptroller's Office is also investigating those contributions not in the reports submitted by Peres and the other candidates.

A violation of the Political Parties Law involving campaign funding, is considered an administrative rather than a criminal violation. However, there are limits to the amount of money, or other gifts, that any public official may receive. Violations of this law, the Civil Service Law (Gifts), do constitute a criminal offense. The amount of money that Peres received from his three foreign benefactors apparently far exceeds the sum that is allowed by law. According to sources in the State Comptroller's Office, Lindenstrauss will recommend for Attorney General Menahem Mazuz to launch an investigation against Peres on suspicion of accepting bribes and breach of faith.

Peres, who is in the US for meetings due on Wednesday with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, responded that he acted in accordance with the law.

"Shimon Peres received permission for the contributions in advance from the proper legal authority, which is Labor's comptroller (mosad lebikoret)," Peres's spokesman said. "Lindenstrauss's adviser also wrote Peres's lawyer that the contributions were received formally according to the law." [Do you mean to tell me that if you have permission from your party you're allowed to violate the law? Come on.... CiJ]

I can't wait to hear what Shimon has to say about this.


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