State Comptroller Joseph Shapira.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
State Comptroller Joseph Shapira has requested that Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman provide details about a trip he took to Vienna earlier this month after Labor MK Shelly Yacimovich sent him a complaint on the issue.
In a letter to the foreign minister's office, Shapira wrote: "My office received a complaint from MK Shelly Yacimovich on the matter of his trip to Vienna some ten days ago. In order to check the complaint, I will ask to receive as a first step, [Liberman's] answer to the claims raised by MK Yacimovich. I will also ask for his travel agenda in Austria and other countries during the trip including a detailed list of his meetings."
Yacimovich's letter to the comptroller came after a report in Ha'aretz
, claiming that Liberman had met with Austrian businessman Martin Schlaff, who was wanted in Israel for questioning until recently.
Yacimovich wrote the comptroller: "The secret meeting in Vienna raises heavy suspicions of improper use of taxpayer money for personal purposes. Hiding the visit from the media, keeping senior foreign ministry officials and diplomats out of the loop and failure to report the minister's diplomatic meetings, if he held any at all, smacks of improper links between capital and government, carried out secretly - but on the public's dime."
The Labor MK asked that the comptroller probe whether Liberman had followed proper procedures of holding and reporting diplomatic meetings, and to check the legality of the visit with Schlaff in particular.
In reply to the claims, Liberman's office stated : "Already last Friday, the moment he returned from the US, the first phone call Minister Liberman made was to the state comptroller asking him to check his state visit to Vienna, in order to prevent any claims by populists that don't understand a thing about foreign diplomacy, or anything else, like Shelly Yacimovich."