Yoav Yitzchak: PM Olmert's Crimes Worse Than Previously Reported
Yoav Yitzchak: PM Olmert's Crimes Worse Than Previously Reported

Investigative journalist Yoav Yitzchak reports that the ongoing investigation against Prime Minister Olmert in the Bank Leumi Affair is yielding damning evidence of crimes punishable by active jail time. The report contradicts recent assertions by PM Olmert's associates that he is unlikely to be charged with crimes.

Yitzchak, Israel’s most prominent investigative journalist, says police investigators have unearthed evidence implicating Olmert not only in fraud, as was originally publicized, but also "fraud in aggravated circumstances," which carries an additional two year jail sentence.

Yitzchak said that police sources had revealed to him that Olmert was questioned on additional charges of fraud and breach of trust.

If Olmert is convicted, Yitzchak says, he could serve from three to five years of active jail time for each of his crimes. Yitzchak quoted the sources as saying that police “without question” have enough evidence to indict Olmert on both charges.

But, the final decision is in the hands of Head of Police Investigations Yochanan Danino. It is known what position Danino will take despite the mounting evidence against Olmert. Yoav Yitzhak says that Danino has earned the title "the Weak Link" in the Israeli Police Investigation department.

According to allegations, then-Finance Minister Olmert intervened on behalf of two of his friends who were interested in buying controlling shares of Bank Leumi, which was undergoing privatization in 2005. The men involved, Frank Lowy and Daniel Abrams, eventually dropped out of the bidding and are not suspected of any wrongdoing.

Worse Than ‘Conflict of Interest’

According to evidence unearthed by police and reported by journalist Yitzchak, Prime Minister Olmert was not just working to advance the interests of billionaire associate Frank Lowy in the Bank Leumi sale – but of his friend attorney Tami Ben-David, who represented Lowy.  

Tami Ben-David is a personal friend of Ehud Olmert and his wife, Aliza. A central partner in the law firm where she works is Attorney Yosef Gross, Ehud Olmert's father-in-law. The evidence against the Prime Minister points to an attempt on his part to arrange for Lowy to win the bid, which would in turn significantly benefit Tami Ben-David in legal fees and a percentage of the Leumi stocks. Olmert was serving as Finance Minister at the time of suspected crime.

Lowy himself testified that Olmert, Ben-David, and others in Israel were “using his good name to make themselves rich,” Yitzchak reported. Lowy was interviewed as a witness in the case in his home country of Australia by Israeli police. It was based on his testimony that the fraud aspect of the case was uncovered – as police presented him with documents seized from Ben-David's office written in his name and ostensibly signed by him that he denied ever seeing, much less signing.