Barak takes the blame for Paris mishap

Hoping for quiet, prepa

By REBECCA ANNA STOIL
October 27, 2009 13:44
2 minute read.

With one negative state comptroller's probe just behind him, and a second looming in the near future, Defense Minister Ehud Barak played down the scandals Tuesday, responding for the first time both to allegations of overspending on a state visit and to claims that he profited from his private businesses while serving as a senior minister. Barak, who had maintained a stony silence regarding last week's State Comptroller's Report on his delegation's spending during the Paris Air Show, spoke out Tuesday during an anti-aircraft battery deployment on the Tel Aviv shore. The military exercise was part of the Juniper Cobra missile-defense drill involving American and Israeli forces that has been continuing throughout the week. The defense minister said that he welcomed the decision by the Knesset State Control Committee and State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss to probe allegations that he received income from his private businesses after having been appointed defense minister. Barak added that his son-in-law, attorney Doron Cohen, who is the director of those companies, "told them that he intends to hand over to them all of the details that are relevant to compensation that arrived at the company after my appointment." In a slam at comments made by Lindenstrauss on Monday in which the comptroller hinted that Barak's company might try to mislead the probe, Barak added that "there is nothing 'not complicated' or 'not simple' about this and the comptroller will receive the file." Regarding Lindenstrauss's findings, published last week, regarding the Paris expenditures, Barak said that "lessons were learned and more lessons will be learned and we will make sure that things like these will not happen again." The defense minister, who had been criticized for not taking responsibility for his office's actions, added, "I am responsible for this. Anyone who doesn't act, can't make mistakes. We will fix, respond and move on." When pressed by journalists regarding the large hotel bills racked up by the delegation, Barak admitted that "it is possible that in retrospect there is something to that," but then added that "the important thing is the ability and the obligation to fix things so that they will not occur again." According to the report, published last Wednesday, the government paid NIS 527,000 (€96,000)  in hotel costs for Barak and an entourage of 15 people, including his wife, for a four-night stay at the Intercontinental Hotel in Paris while attending the Paris Air Show in June. Those costs, however, did not include the additional bill racked up by a professional delegation of 34 army and Defense Ministry officials, who stayed at a less expensive hotel and cost the state NIS 417,000 (€76,000.)


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