Monday, 3 May 2010

Olmert faces fourth indictment

Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is now facing the likelihood of a fourth indictment, on charges that he handed out sinecures in the Authority for Small-and Medium-Sized Business to senior Likud Party members whose political support he needed while serving as Minister of Industry, Commerce and Employment in 2004 and 2005.

The decision to indict him is conditional on the outcome of a hearing which the state prosecution is offering Olmert’s lawyers. Olmert waived his right to a hearing regarding three other affairs in which he has already been indicted, Rishontours, Talansky and the Investment Center.

“The head of the Economic Department in the State Attorney’s Office informed the attorneys of Mr. Ehud Olmert and Mr. Oved Yehezkel that ... the possibility is being considered of trying them on criminal charges regarding suspicions that they committed violations in this affair,” the Justice Ministry spokesman announced.

“The main suspicions are that throughout this period ... the suspects exploited their status and prerogatives in the various ministries they controlled and acted, in a conflict of interests, in an organized, systematic and broad manner to advance the interests of members of the Likud Central Committee, Likud activists and their friends.

“They did this in order to do them favors and to please them by helping them find work, and in responding to their requests on different matters involving the civil service officials in order to strengthen Olmert’s political position.”

Olmert, who in addition to heading the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Education also served at various times during 2004 and 2005 as deputy prime minister, minister of finance and minister of communications, did favors in various institutions including Bezeq, the Postal Authority, the Employment Service, the Small- and Medium-Sized Business Authority and the Israel Lands Authority. He is also suspected of appointing Likud activists as public representatives in the labor courts.

The state is considering charging Olmert and Yehezkel with fraud and breach of faith and of trying to influence those with the right to vote to vote for Olmert in return for the promise of future favors. More

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