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Police Tighten Noose on Olmert, Urge Indictment in Third Scandal

The police have recommended that Ehud Olmert be indicted in the Investment Center scandal. He already may face trial in two other probes.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 3/5/2009, 12:38 PM / Last Update: 3/5/2009, 12:48 PM

Israel News Photo: (illustrative)

Police fraud investigators recommended to Attorney General Menachem Mazuz Thursday that indictments be filed against outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for breach of public trust and fraud in the Investment Center scandal.

The recommendations follow similar conclusions that the Prime Minister be indicted in two other affairs, the RishonTours double billing scam and the acceptance of hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash from American businessman Morris (Moshe) Talansky.

Olmert’s personal spokesman, as in the other recommendations for indictments, accused the police of making a sensation without any basis for charges.

The probe in the Investment Center affair almost was closed until State Comptroller and Ombudsman Micha Lindenstrauss, followed with his own investigation two years ago. He pointed out that Olmert, while serving as Minister for Trade, played favoritism by helping his personal lawyer, Uri Messer.
 
One of the investments involves a proposal in 1998 for an Israeli-Jordanian project between Eilat and Aqaba. When the project was dropped, Messer allegedly asked Olmert to facilitate authorization for its development.
 
The police have not reached conclusions concerning the investigation of Olmert’s purchase of a house on Jerusalem's Cremieux Street. He is suspected of having received a reduction of $330,000 for the purchase of the building in return for helping to obtain building permits despite the building's being zoned as a part of a preservation area that prohibits external construction.

Investigative journalist Yoav Yitzchak, who has been in the forefront of exposing allegations against the Prime Minister, reported several days ago that Shula Zaken, Olmert’s long-time office manager, delivered incriminating testimony to the police.