Analysis: If true, latest allegation against PM are most blatant example of corruption

By DAN IZENBERG
July 13, 2008 23:47
2 minute read.

If the latest allegations raised by the police and prosecution prove to be true, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will have crossed his Rubicon, from which there will be no way back - not to politics, not to rehabilitation in the eyes of the public and likely not even to his own hearth for some time to come. The police are currently investigating Olmert in connection with six different affairs. In the latest, he is suspected of charging two or three different nonprofit organizations for the same trip, during which he spoke on their behalf at fundraising dinners abroad. Of the six, with the possible exception of the house on Cremieux St. in Jerusalem's Germany Colony, the latest affair is the only one in which Olmert is suspected of illegally taking larges sums of money for his private use. Olmert is suspected of buying his home at substantially less than the market value in return for using his influence in Jerusalem's city hall, where he served two terms as mayor, to obtain benefits for the developer. He is also suspected of giving preferential treatment to the clients of his close friend Uri Messer, making political appointments to Likud Central Committee members or their relatives, and of intervening in a public tender on behalf of business associates. In none of these cases was he given money, though he stood to save a great deal of money in the house purchase and to gain other types of benefits in the other three affairs. In the Talansky affair, Olmert is suspected of receiving cash payments from his American backer. He has admitted that he received allegedly small sums of money, but claims these payments either went to his political campaigns or were used to upgrade speaking trips that he made to the US. He claims he didn't use the money for his own private benefit. But there is nothing vague or ambivalent about the latest affair of the "double or triple payments." If the allegations are true, there is nothing that Olmert can say to justify his extracting full payment for his trips from more than one organization. That would still be true even if the state could not prove that Olmert used the money to finance his family's private trips abroad. If he is indicted in this latest affair, Olmert is likely to be charged with several violations of the Penal Law including fraud and breach of trust (maximum sentence of 10 years), theft by a public servant (maximum sentence of 10 years), and obtaining something by deceit in aggravated circumstances (maximum of five years).


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