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Comptroller Report Slams Barak on Personal, Professional Issues

Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss criticized Ehud Barak for transfering control of a company he owned and for his handling of the Defense Ministry
By David Lev
First Publish: 5/17/2011, 7:57 PM / Last Update: 5/17/2011, 9:28 PM

Flash 90

State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss sharply criticized Ehud Barak over the way he transferred control of a company he owned to his daughters, in order to avoid a conflict of interest when he was appointed Defense Minister. Lindenstrauss said that Barak did not act in a manner befitting a minister or other government official.

In addition, the report slammed the IDF – of which Barak, as Defense Minister, is in charge – for a series of problems, including a lack of efficiency in outfitting sensitive sites with defensive measures, failing to undertake long-term planning, and making questionable purchases with Defense Ministry money.

Observers said that the report was one of the sharpest ever issued on the defense establishment.

A wide-ranging plan to protect sensitive infrastructure and public sites is being executed very half-heartedly, Lindenstrauss said in the report. “The situation indicates a lack of planning, oversight, and decision-making,” he wrote, adding that “it is preventing these institutions from making much-needed plans to deal with civil and defense emergencies.”

Many of the details in this section of the report were not released for publication, due to their security sensitivity.

The report also slammed the Homefront Command, another military organization under Barak's control, saying that group had not been successful in meeting a number of its goals – for example, coordinating between rescue services. The lack of coordination makes rescue efforts more difficult, the report said, and makes it harder for authorities to decide where help is most needed in an emergency.

In addition, the report criticized the IDF for a questionable deal for leasing vehicles for officers' use through a private company, at a cost of NIS one billion over 20 years.

And, the report also slammed the IDF's History Department for failing to set proper criteria for researching the IDF's history.

In a special opinion section of the report, Lindenstrauss also slammed Barak personally over a shady stock deal. The deal surrounded a company Barak set up in 2002, called Ehud Barak Ltd., which did consulting for firms seeking contracts with the IDF. In 2007, days before he became Ehud Olmert's Defense Minister, he transferred control of the company to his three daughters.

Lindenstrauss said that if it had been Barak's intention to avoid a conflict of interest, he failed, as the move violated clear rules that state that a minister must completely sever ties with a business that could conflict with his fulfilling his duties objectively.

Commenting on the report, Kadima head Tzipi Livni said that she was “not sure there is a good reason for the Attorney General not to open an investigation into this matter."

"These kinds of issues are often investigated by the Attorney General in the case of other politicians”, Livni said in an interview with Army Radio.

Responding to the story, a spokesperson for Barak said that the minister had violated no laws, and that there had been no allegations of criminal activity on Barak's part.

Barak, as head of the Defense Ministry,  is responsible for the IDF's preparedness for this year's Nakba Day protests, on which the IDF was surprised by the mass Syrian border crossing on Sunday.