Olmert faces criminal probe
ISRAELI PRIME Minister Ehud Olmert asked the police on Wednesday to conduct as quickly as possible their criminal investigation into allegations that he illegally attempted to influence the sale of Bank Leumi when serving as finance minister.
State Prosecutor Eran Shendar decided to launch a criminal probe into the sale after questioning a number of people involved in the deal. Mr Olmert is suspected of an alleged breach of trust by attempting to change the details of the sale’s tender in favour of Australian businessman Frank Lowy. In fact, Mr Lowy did not buy the bank.
The investigation will be handled by the national fraud squad. Mr Olmert has insisted that he acted properly during the sale, noting that the sale process had been approved by Bank of Israel governor, Stanley Fischer, and the Finance Ministry’s legal adviser.
The Treasury’s accountant-general, Dr Yaron Zelichah, has meanwhile been assigned a bodyguard after his wife received a threatening phone call. Dr Zelichah was the official who first questioned Mr Olmert’s actions during the Leumi sale and he has repeatedly warned of corruption within Israel’s governing elite.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert meeting US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Israel this week