Prime Minister Ehud Olmert accused State Comptroller and Ombudsman Micha Lindenstrauss of conducting a "circus" in his accusations of conflict of interest. Former Justice Lindenstrauss called the charge "very grave." The heated exchange of words was one of the few verbal confrontations during a Knesset House Committee session, and the two men did not shake hands before or after their presentations.
The Comptroller has charged that Prime Minister Olmert, when he was a Cabinet minister in the Sharon government, approved a government grant to a factory for a business friend represented by his former law partner Uri Messer. Lindenstrauss said that former Finance Minister Binyamin (Bibi) Netanyahu, although he did not mention his name, removed himself from dealing with the sale of government shares in Bank Leumi because of a possible conflict of interest.
Prime Minister Olmert rejected the charges and said he was not the first minister to have dealings with friends. He spoke mostly about the need for the factory and the financial losses suffered since the accusations were leveled.