x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Ex-Israeli leader indicted on corruption charges

Ehud Olmert, the former prime minister, is accused of seeking hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes.

The accusations of corruption forced Ehud Olmert, centre, to resign as prime minister in 2009.
The accusations of corruption forced Ehud Olmert, centre, to resign as prime minister in 2009.

JERUSALEM // The former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert was indicted yesterday on new corruption charges for allegedly seeking hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes.

According to the indictment, millions of dollars illegally changed hands to promote a series of real estate projects, including a controversial housing development in Jerusalem that required a radical change in zoning laws and earned the developers tax breaks and other benefits.

Jerusalem residents have long suspected that the hulking Holyland housing development, built on a prominent hilltop, was tainted by corruption. Yesterday's indictment against Mr Olmert - who was the city's mayor when the project ballooned - cemented those doubts about his integrity.

He is also suspected of influence-peddling in another, smaller real estate deal included in the indictment, which charges 13 government officials, developers and other businesspeople in three separate schemes.

All the alleged crimes took place while Mr Olmert was mayor of Jerusalem and minister of industry and trade, positions he held before becoming prime minister in 2006. He has denied all the charges.

The former Israeli leader is already standing trial on separate charges of accepting illicit funds from an American supporter and double-billing Jewish groups for trips abroad - also before he became prime minister.

He has denied those charges, too, and claims no wrongdoing during a three-decade political career dogged by suspicions of corruption but no convictions. The accusations, however, forced Mr Olmert to resign after a three-year term as prime minister in 2009.