View Full Version : Olmert Answering Corruption Charges

07-26-2007, 08:31 AM
Olmert answering corruption charges


Thu, 26 Jul 2007 00:59:25

Israeli Prime Minister has appeared before lawmakers to answer corruption accusations leveled against him by the top public watchdog.

Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss has accused Ehud Olmert, while trade and industry minister, of trying to advance a former business partner's interests by extending funds to help him set up a factory in southern Israel.

The man in question, lawyer Uriel Messer, is widely credited with getting Olmert elected as Jerusalem mayor in 1998.

But facing a parliamentary committee on Wednesday, Olmert denied any conflict of interest.

"I have little respect for someone who has transformed the institution of the state comptroller into a circus," he said, launching a withering attack on the top watchdog.

Lindenstrauss retorted that the prime minister had skirted the accusations and should have allowed the factory issue to be handled by someone else in order not to give rise to suspicion about conflict of interest.

In his report in April, he recommended a police investigation into the case but only Attorney General Menachem Mazuz has the power to order the opening of a criminal investigation against a prime minister.

Olmert's approval ratings are at historic lows over a string of corruption charges implicating both himself and members of his government, in addition to heavy criticism doled out by a government inquiry into the Lebanon war.