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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Ehud K. Olmert to face criminal investigation in Bank Leumi affair

Al Capone's downfall was income taxes. Ehud K. Olmert's may be the sale of the government's share in a major bank to private interests.

State Prosecutor Eran Shendar has officially ordered the Israeli police to investigate Prime Minister Ehud K. Olmert's interference in the auction of the state's controlling interest in Bank Leumi.

According to the Jerusalem Post, sources involved in the investigation concluded that there was sufficient evidence to open a criminal probe, and Israel Police Inspector General Moshe Karadi was expected to convene a special meeting this evening to assemble an investigation team.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the police anti-fraud unit would handle the probe. He declined to say how long it would take.

YNet is reporting that 'sources familiar with the affair' told them that Olmert will be indicted. According to YNet:
The evidence includes specific documentation of Olmert’s activity on behalf of his associates; it was reported that the prime minister did not disclose the fact that his son-in-law was the attorney for a friend who was competing in the Bank Leumi tender.
Haaretz says that the friend was Frank Lowy, an Australian real estate baron. The Post also names US real estate magnate Mort Zuckerman and Brazilian banking tycoon Joseph Safra. Haaretz also reports that Olmert's associates told Israel Radio that
the prime minsiter was proud of his involvement in the privatization of Bank Leumi and saw no fault in his behavior. They added that the sale was made in coordination with officials and legal advisers from the Finance Ministry.

One name you have not seen mentioned yet is that of Attorney General Manny Mazuz. According to Haaretz, he has removed himself from the case because his sister holds a senior position at the Finance Ministry and took part in the Bank Leumi privatization process. At least he was honest enough to remove himself.

With MK's both left and right anticipating new elections, the JPost is reporting that the Kadima Achora party is preparing itself to have to replace Olmert.

But the funniest quote is this one from an unnamed Kadima Achora minister in the Post:
A Kadima minister called the party's situation "serious," adding that "the announcement could ruin his standing in the polls."
Apparently he hasn't read the polls....



At 7:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

without specific inside knowledge, I would wager the leak of information about secret Syrian talks was aimed at getting Olmert out of legal hole, just like Sharon's effort to unilaterally withdraw turned down the heat on his own investigation


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