Zelekha testifies to police in Leumi case concerning Olmert

By REBECCA ANNA STOIL
January 30, 2007 02:52

2 minute read.



Accountant-General Yaron Zelekha spent eight hours Monday offering testimony to the police that could be damaging to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and members of his inner circle. Zelekha's testimony at the Bat Yam offices of the National Fraud Squad concerned the 2005 sale of the controlling shares in Bank Leumi. Last week, police announced they would begin a criminal probe into alleged improprieties by Olmert surrounding the privatization of the bank, which occurred during Olmert's tenure as finance minister. Zelekha reportedly filed the official complaint against Olmert to State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss and will be the key witness against the prime minister should the case go to court. Almost two months ago, Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer reportedly made a statement to police during which he told investigators that Olmert and Zelekha had several disagreements during the meetings in which the Bank Leumi tender was discussed. Olmert is suspected of demanding changes to the Bank Leumi tender in order to improve the chances that his associate, Australian billionaire Frank Lowy, would win it. Reports last week indicated that State Attorney Eran Shendar may have procured a piece of paper bearing the logo of a hotel in which Lowy had stayed on which the billionaire allegedly wrote down the changes he wanted to see and read them out to officials during a meeting in the US. Olmert was reportedly seen later with the same piece of paper and referred to it when he changed the terms of the tender, ostensibly to make it more attractive to all bidders. Zelekha has long said that as a result of his whistle-blowing, he has been threatened, both professionally and physically. Even on his way to testify Monday, Zelekha was accompanied by an armed bodyguard, who has been assigned to him since he claimed to receive threats on his life two weeks ago. According to Zelekha's wife, Orly, she received a voice message on her cellular phone threatening that "first we will take care of Yaron, and after that we will put an end to you and break your arms and legs." A second phone message threatened that "If Yaron does not leave Jerusalem, we will harm him and his family." In his hot pursuit of corrupt politicians, Zelikha has certainly amassed enemies in recent years, including his boss, Finance Minister Avraham Hirchson who demoted him within the ministry. Olmert himself has also attacked the official, saying that he wanted to fire Zelikha a year ago for "improper and subversive activity towards his colleagues."


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