Sunday, November 11, 2007


Investigators raid over 20 locations for evidence in Olmert probes

By Israel Insider staff November 11, 2007

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Over 100 investigators from the National Fraud Investigation Unit simultaneously searched more than 20 locations Sunday morning for evidence in connection with three ongoing probes into Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for alleged corruption.

Investigators searched private, public and government buildings, including the offices of the Israel Land Administration and the Industry, Trade, and Labor Ministry, Jerusalem City Hall and private law offices, among others.

"Police investigators are searching a number of government and private offices in connection with three ongoing investigations into Olmert," said police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld, adding that the searches would be conduced throughout the morning, but could last longer.

According to Army Radio, investigators are searching all locations simultaneously so as to gather the needed information while limiting the disturbance caused by the raids.

Prime Minister Olmert is being investigated concurrently on suspicions of irregularities in the purchase of his Jerusalem home, political favors given during his tenure as industry, trade, and labor minister and the Bank Leumi affair.

Olmert is suspected of helping a real estate developer acquire construction permits in exchange for a large discount in the purchase of his Jerusalem home.

In the probe of his tenure as industry, trade, and labor minister, the prime minister is being investigated on two cases of cronyism. He's suspected of making improper political appointments in the case of the Small and Medium Business Authority, and in the Investment Center scandal, he was supposedly involved in a decision that granted $10 million to a factory represented by Uriel Messer, his close friend, lawyer and former business partner.

In the Bank Leumi affair, police suspect that Olmert, as finance minister in 2005, tried to influence the sale of the government's controlling interest in one of the country's largest financial institutions. They are investigating whether Olmert intervened in the sale to help, unsuccessfully, as it turned out, two billionaire associates, Australian real estate developer Frank Lowy and American billionaire S. Daniel Abraham, the "Slim-Fast" tycoon.

Last week, in a survey published by the Sderot Conference, an annual gathering of social action experts, the public judged Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as the most corrupt member of government for the second year running. Former finance minister Abraham Hirchson was a close second.

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