PM Olmert
PM Olmert

The head of the police investigative team probing Olmert's alleged intervention in the Bank Leumi privatization recommends charges against the Prime Minister.

According to a report in the Yisrael Hayom Hebrew-language commuter paper this week, the entire investigative team that was actively engaged in the probe supports the decision to indict the Prime Minister, in opposition to the stance taken by the head of the Police Department's Investigations Wing, Yochanan Danino.

The Bank Leumi case is one of four cases against the Prime Minister currently being investigated by the police.  It involves suspicions that Olmert, as Acting Minister of Finance in late 2005, attempted to change the terms of the sale of the bank to fit the terms of two of his friends, who were in the bidding to buy it.  The friends later dropped out. 

The police have apparently found that had the sale gone through according to the amended terms, the State of Israel stood to lose $250 million.  Olmert's defenders, on the other hand, say it is normal to amend the terms of a deal during the negotiating stage.

The investigation was opened based on testimony by Dr. Yaron Zelicha, the Finance Ministry's Accountant-General.  Current Finance Minister Roni Bar-On attempted to cut short Zelicha's term in office because - Zelicha says - of his whistle-blowing, but the State Comptroller prevented him from doing so.

State Prosecutor Eran Shendar, who was to have made the final decision on an indictment against Olmert, has left his position.  A replacement is to be chosen within a few weeks, and must be approved by the Olmert government.

Other Police Investigations

Another investigation against Olmert involves his purchase of a luxury apartment on Jerusalem's Cremeiux St. for a discount of at least $330,000, in exchange for Olmert's influence in expediting municipal construction.  He is also under investigation in the matter known as the Investment Center case, for which State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss has recommended that Olmert be indicted for his intervention in a case involving his friend, former partner and current lawyer Uri Messer.  Finally, the police are also investigating alleged political appointments Olmert made as Trade Minister in the Small Business Administration.

Winograd Removes Last Vestiges of Threat Against Olmert

Amidst all the police investigations against him, Olmert received some good news regarding the Winograd Commission that was charged with investigating the government's failures during the Second Lebanon War.  The Commission informed the Supreme Court officially on Sunday that it does not plan to issue criticism of specific persons.  It had long been expected that the Winograd recommendations would be so strong that Olmert would be forced to resign - whereas it now appears that Olmert has nothing to fear from Winograd.