Former prime minister Ehud Olmert denied on Saturday that he was connected in any way to the Holyland project scandal that was revealed last week by the police.

“I deny any connection to all the hints that have been made on this matter,”  Olmert told Channel 2 news on Saturday from Spain, referring to suggestions that he may have been involved in the new corruption affair.

Olmert said he had been surprised by the latest developments, in which six suspects, including his former close friend Uri Messer, were remanded in custody last week. They and others are under investigation in connection with suspicions of bribery and illegal payoffs involving three real-estate affairs, including the massive Holyland project in Jerusalem, which was approved while Olmert was mayor of the capital.

The other two were discussed while Olmert served as minister of industry, commerce and employment. Although neither was built, Olmert’s ministry was involved in the negotiations for both.

Olmert has been abroad for a week and is not due to return to Israel until the end of this week. He said he had made his travel plans months earlier and no one had told him not to leave the country.

“No one spoke to me or my lawyers, even though members of the State Prosecution met with them just two days ago (during a hearing for Olmert’s trial on Thursday) and no one said anything to them. So I don’t know what this is all about.”

Olmert said the fact that his name has been linked to the affair was part of an ongoing “atmosphere” in which there is a deliberate attempt to harm him.

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