Israeli police recommends indictment of former PM in bribery affair

09:49, August 24, 2010      

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The Israel Police has recommended on Monday that state prosecutors indict former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on corruption charges in a Holyland real estate bribery investigation.

Olmert is suspected of having accepted bribes of more than one million shekels (about 262,000 U.S. dollars) during his tenures as mayor of Jerusalem and later as trade minister.

The money, according to the indictment, came from real estate developers and businessmen in exchange for helping advance their interests in the Holyland luxury residential complex in southern Jerusalem, and other real estate projects.

The former Israeli prime minister denies the allegations against him. "Olmert has declared in the clearest manner that he never accepted bribes, directly or indirectly," his media adviser said in response to the police announcement.

The police investigation was launched after a businessman, who was involved in the Holyland initiative and eventually went bankrupt, offered information in exchange for turning state witness and having his financial debts covered by the state.

A police statement released on Monday said the investigation dug up enough evidence to indict Olmert on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of public trust.

The statement added that solid evidence had also been gathered against a long list of businessmen and public officials for their alleged involvement in the affair.

Among them was Olmert's personal secretary and long-time confidant, Shula Zaken. Zaken is suspected of money laundering and mediating bribes, among other charges.

Former Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski, who succeeded Olmert, is suspected of receiving bribes totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Source: Xinhua


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