x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Olmert corruption investigation widened

Israeli police have sent investigators to the US to expand a corruption investigation linked to the prime minister.

The Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert, right, speaks as the foreign minister Tzipi Livni, left, looks on, during the weekly cabinet meeting at his Jerusalem office today.
The Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert, right, speaks as the foreign minister Tzipi Livni, left, looks on, during the weekly cabinet meeting at his Jerusalem office today.

Israeli police have sent two senior investigators to the United States to expand a corruption investigation linked to the embattled prime minister Ehud Olmert, a spokesman said today. "Two senior officials from the police's fraud department, Lior Rice and Tzahi Habekin, are in the United States for two and a half weeks to continue the corruption investigation involving Prime Minister Ehud Olmert," Micky Rosenfeld, a police spokesman, said.

He added that the two detectives would seek to obtain documents from several US banks and companies related to a corruption investigation into financial contributions given to Prime Minister Olmert before he became premier. The corruption investigation, the most serious of four pending investigations involving the increasingly unpopular premier, is focused on donations given to Mr Olmert by the Jewish-American financier Morris Talansky.

Mr Talansky testified in May that he had given Mr Olmert at least US$150,000 (Dh550,950) in the 14 years before he became prime minister in 2006. He said some of this money might have been used to fund the prime minister's taste for luxury goods. The expanding corruption investigation brought widespread calls for Mr Olmert to step down or hold a primary to select a new head of his centrist Kadima party. On June 25, Mr Olmert narrowly averted an opposition bid to bring down the government by cutting a deal with the Labour party, a crucial coalition partner, that requires Kadima to hold primary elections by Sept 25.

The party leadership is scheduled to meet by July 10 to fix a date for the primaries, which are expected to pit the foreign minister Tzipi Livni against the transport minister Shaul Mofaz and possibly Mr Olmert as well. *AFP