State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss' latest report details suspicions of criminal activity by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, when he was Industry, Trade and Labor Minister. Lindenstrauss submitted his report to Attorney General Menachem Mazuz with a recommendation to prosecute Olmert.
According to the report, Olmert "worked intensively to grant substantial benefits to the clients of a lawyer whom he is closely associated with."
The report relates to the years 2001 – 2003, when Olmert headed the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor. The report details how Olmert allegedly used his influence to obtain for a factory called TS Silicate a NIS 10 million grant from the government although it was not eligible for it, and additional benefits worth 16 million NIS.
MK Gilad Erdan (Likud) asked Olmert to "have mercy on the citizens of Israel" and leave the Prime Minister's Office
Lindenstrauss' report says TS Silicate had received many grants from the ministry's Center for Investment from 1992 onwards but lost its status as an "Approved Manufacturer" (mifal meushar) in 1997. Olmert allegedly applied pressure to reinstate its “approved” status in 2003, so that the plant would again be eligible to receive government grants.
At the time, the factory's business interests were represented by a a former partner of Olmert's Attorney Uri Meser. Meser headed the nonprofit group to elect Olmert as mayor of Jerusalem in 1998 and maintains ties with Olmert to date. Despite this, Olmert did not disqualify himself from direct involvement in the matter.
"Olmert's conflict of interest, his involvement and that of his aides in matters which are within the purview and authority of the professional elements in the Center for Investment should be viewed with the utmost severity," wrote Lindenstrauss.
The State Prosecutor's office said that it would formulate its legal opinion on the new material in a matter of weeks as Lindenstrauss' new report is more complete and detailed. A previous probe by Lindenstrauss in 2006 led to a criminal investigation of Olmert for a bribe he allegedly received with the purchase of an apartment on Cremieux Street in Jerusalem. That investigation is still underway.
Olmert's bureau reacted to the report by attacking Lindenstrauss, saying that Olmert had long since lost trust in Lindenstrauss and therefore had no expectations of him, adding that the Comptroller is "motivated by a love of the limelight." His lawyers wrote a letter to AG Mazuz in which they described Lindenstrauss' actions as "evil."
Attorney General Menachem Mazuz MK Limor Livnat (Likud) said in response that "Olmert's unprecedented attack on the State Comptroller should be rejected outright. No diversionary tactics will absolve the prime minister of the need to give relevant answers to this serious report."
Gilad Erdan (Likud) asked Olmert to "have mercy on the citizens of Israel" and leave the Prime Minister's Office. MK Yossi Beilin (Meretz) called on Olmert to resign. MK Zevulun Orlev (NU/NRP) called upon Olmert to suspend himself from office in light of the serious charges.