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megimoo
09-07-2008, 09:47 PM
Police recommend indicting Olmert on bribery charges

After months of investigations and speculation, police recommended on Sunday evening that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert should be charged with bribery, breach of public trust, violation of anti-money laundering legislation and fraudulent receipt of goods.

According to former National Fraud Unit investigator Dep.-Cmdr. (ret.) Boaz Gutman, Olmert will likely be formally charged in December.

The police recommendations are based on two probes. The first examined Olmert's role in the Talansky cash-envelopes affair, in which Olmert is said to have illicitly received hundreds of thousands of dollars from Long Island investor Morris Talansky in exchange for advancing the mogul's business interests. Olmert's promotion of Talansky's business led to the recommendation to indict him for bribery, police said.

The second investigation, into what is known as the Rishon Tours affair, found that Olmert had acted illegally in double-billing charities and a government ministry for the same flights, sending them false receipts and using the excess reimbursements to pay for personal family travel.

Police said a third investigation, known as the Investment Center affair, in which Olmert is suspected of having granted large state investment funds to a company that his close associate and former law partner Uri Messer was hired to represent, was almost complete, pending one more interrogation session that would be scheduled soon.

"In the Talansky affair, an apparent basis of evidence has been consolidated against [the] prime minister, Mr. Ehud Olmert: that he received bribes, committed fraud andbreach of public trust by a public official, and violated anti-money laundering legislation," police said.

"In the Rishon Tours affair, an apparent basis of evidence has been consolidated against the prime minister [showing] that he fraudulently received goods under aggravated circumstances, committed breach of public trust, and other offences. The tax aspects that arise from the affair will be dealt with separately," police added.

Police officials briefed the Justice Ministry on their findings, which in turn briefed Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz.

The material regarding the Talansky and Rishon Tours affairs will now be handed over to the Jerusalem District Attorney's Office, where the district attorney for criminal affairs, Eli Abarbanel, will head the investigation. Abarbanel will submit his recommendation on whether to indict Olmert and pass it on to State Attorney Moshe Lador, who will then present his opinion to Mazuz for a final decision.

Earlier, chief investigator Cmdr. Yohanan Danino, Lahav Unit (433) chief Cmdr. Yoav Saglovitch and the head of the National Fraud Unit, Dep.-Cmdr. Shlomi Ayalon, held meetings with investigators and legal advisers at the Israel Police national headquarters in Jerusalem.

At the end of the meetings, Danino and Saglovitch adopted the National Fraud Unit's recommendation that the prime minister be indicted.

Olmert's former bureau secretary, Shula Zaken, should also be charged for her role in helping Olmert receive bribes, commit fraud, breach public trust, and violate anti-money laundering legislation in the Talansky affair, police said.

Zaken should also be charged for her participation in the fraudulent receipt of goods under aggravated circumstances and breach of public trust in the Rishon Tours affair, police added.

Olmert's spokesman Amir Dan said, "It is a shame that the police has not learned a thing from previous affairs in which it made grand statements and it ended with modest voices. The police's aim should be not to make headlines and engage in PR for itself."

Dan said that when the police's findings reached court, "as we have seen from Talansky's testimony, the picture changes completely and things look very different. The police has no choice but to recommend an indictment, because it must justify the fact that it brought down a ruling prime minister."
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