Ehud Barak 521.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
A day after the State Comptroller issued a highly critical assessment on
financial transactions committed by Defense Minister Ehud Barak prior to his
appointment in 2007, Barak’s lawyers began a media blitz to clear his name
In an interview to IBA radio, Barak’s attorney Navot
Tel-Zur, said that close reading of the report provides evidence clearing Barak
of any wrong doing. Meanwhile on IDF radio, his partner attorney Ram Caspi
claimed that the calls for Barak to resign were driven by antagonism to Barak
the person and not for any alleged misdeeds.
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Barak’s lawyers preferred to
see the report, which concluded that, “Barak’s actions did not meet the public
norms expected from a cabinet minister or someone who is in place to become
one,” as a general critique of the way successful businessmen make the
transition from the private to the public sector and not as a direct comment on
The report found that Barak had transferred stock from
his consulting firm Ehud Barak Ltd to his daughters merely three days before
joining the government and did not disclose his full holdings to the government
to be inspected as required of a minister. The report said that had Barak chosen
to ask for a postponement in filing the material, he would have been granted one
and avoided the appearance of conflict of interest.
“The headlines this
morning talk about scathing criticism, but I think you have to read the report
itself to find that it includes substantive findings that clear the Defense
Ministry completely from the early suspicions and claims made against him that
led to the investigation in the first place,” said Tel-Zur.
said the State Comptrollers report cleared Barak of all allegations of receiving
improper funds as Defense Minister and acting in conflict of interest.
choose to see the State Comptrollers criticism as a recommendation that even
those who are candidates for a ministerial role, take on the guidelines
governing ministers, even if they are not legally obligated to. The Defense
Minister has already said that he embraces the recommendations,” said
“It must be noted that Barak was appointed to his post in 2007
with just three business days of advanced warning. He took the must urgent
action he was able to in order to remove himself from the company he ran when he
was a businessman. The State Comptroller stated that it would have better to
take a different course. That is constructive criticism, which we accept. There
is no grain of corruption here,” said Tel Zur.
The lawyer added that any
funds pulled out of the company by Barak, were done so with permission and
stressed that all of the company’s earnings were for services rendered prior to
Barak’s leaving the company and in any case had no connection to his job as
Caspi said that the attacks on Barak were
“People like to hate Barak and he doesn’t deserve it. We are
talking about a person who dedicated his entire life for the benefit of the
state of Israel. There are claims that he also provided generously for himself,
but a person is allowed to do so, just as he’s allowed to go into public
service,” Caspi said.
Meanwhile the number of voices calling on the
Attorney General to open a criminal investigation based on the state
Comptrollers report are increasing.
Knesset State Control Committee
Chairman Yoel Hasson (Kadima) called the report “the most severe one to ever
come out against a serving minister,” immediately after its release and said he
would hold a special committee hearing in the upcoming days to determine whether
it merits a criminal investigation by the Attorney General.
Calls to have
Barak investigated were later echoed by other MKs and legal forums from the
On Wednesday, anti-corruption watchdog group, Ometz, sent a letter
to Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein, stating that even though the report did
not find Barak culpable of criminal actions, it warranted a police investigation
to determine whether an indictment should be lodged.
“Ometz believes that
Barak, allegedly, mislead the State Comptroller in the material he passed on to
him regarding his business, both in Ehud Barak Ltd and its daughter companies.”
Read the letter. “There are suspicions that the transfer of stock of the mother
company to Barak’s daughters did not completely sever his ties from the
companies and was not done according to the rules. Barak also concealed
information relating to the daughter companies, which operated with links to the