Ehud Barak 521.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Following the publication on Tuesday of an assessment by the state comptroller
on alleged financial wrongdoings by Defense Minister Ehud Barak, the Knesset
State Control Committee will hold a hearing soon to determine whether a criminal
investigation by the attorney- general is merited.
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“Barak’s actions did
not meet the public norms expected from a cabinet minister, or from someone who
is in place to become one,” the report read.
According to the report,
requested by the State Control Committee, the fact that Barak transferred funds
from his company Ehud Barak LTD to his daughters only three days before joining
the government – and the fact that he failed to notify the special exemptions
committee of all his holdings – while not criminal, warranted concern over a
conflict of interest.
The report dealt with actions Barak took before his
appointment as defense minister in July 2007. Barak’s companies made more than
NIS 4.5 million between 2007 and 2009, according to the
“Transferring Barak’s stocks to his daughters does not distance
him completely from interest in the companies, as required by the
By avoiding turning to the committee as a ministerial
candidate, transferring the stocks to his daughters prior to the appointment and
in the absence of full disclosure, Barak created an arrangement that he likely
couldn’t have reached had he turned to the committee,” the report
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“Doing so, he also failed to bring the companies before the
inspection of the state comptroller by signing an agreement with the government,
as required by the regulations, and in such a way avoided effective supervision.
The state comptroller believes that Barak should immediately sever all ties
between him and the companies,” the report concluded.
Micha Lindenstrauss said that though Barak transferred the funds before entering
office, he had known about his expected appointment long beforehand, and should
have acted earlier.
Barak on Tuesday thanked Lindenstrauss for the report
and said he was studying it carefully, and would act on its recommendations.
According to Barak, the report clears him of suspicions that he had received
money in exchange for benefits granted while he was a minister.
the report proves that none of the company’s clients had any dealings with the
Defense Ministry, and therefore there was never a concern over conflict of
State Control Committee chairman Yoel Hasson, however, said
the report on Barak was the most severe ever submitted on a cabinet minister,
and called on the attorney-general to open a criminal investigation against
Barak and his daughters.
“The attempt to cheat the public and present his
actions as a mere technical problem collapsed in face of the ugly reality
exposed by the state comptroller,” Hasson said. He added that failure to
investigate Barak would prove that not all ministers were equal, and indicate
that “what is illegal for the foreign minister, is legal for the defense
Opposition leader Tzipi Livni, chairwoman of Hasson’s party,
agreed that the attorney-general needed to investigate Barak.
politician needs to be judged not just on what is criminal, but also on the
basis of public norms,” she said. “The time has come for things that are done
behind closed doors to come out so the public will know. Barak should show
MK Aryeh Eldad, a former chairman of the Knesset Ethics
Committee, said the report on Barak was very serious because it exposed the ways
he managed to avoid disclosing vital information for the purposes of inspection
as required by law.
“With all due respect to the state comptroller, he’s
wrong. No one expects Barak to meet public norms any longer. The pubic has had
it with him, and he should go home like any corrupt person,” Eldad said.
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