No more questions for PM over Leumi

Police now to determine if there are grounds for criminal charges

By ETGAR LEFKOVITS
October 11, 2007 22:30
1 minute read.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was questioned by police Thursday for the second time in three days over allegations of breach of trust in the privatization of Bank Leumi. The four hours of questions at the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem came after a five-hour session on Tuesday, police said. No further questioning is scheduled. Olmert was questioned "under caution," meaning that anything he said can be used against him in court if he is ever charged. Police are expected to decide in the coming weeks if they will recommend that the State Prosecutor's Office bring charges in the case, with some sources already suggesting that it will be closed. Police suspect that Olmert tried to influence the 2005 sale of the government's controlling interest in Israel's second largest bank to favor two associates; at the time, he was finance minister in Ariel Sharon's government. Those associates, billionaires Australian real estate developer Frank Lowy and American Slim Fast founder S. Daniel Abraham, never submitted a formal bid for the bank. The investigation into the Bank Leumi sale was ordered last year by State Attorney Eran Shendar. Olmert, who is the last person to be questioned in the case, has denied any wrongdoing. He is also suspected of buying a home on Jerusalem's Cremieux Street in 2004 at a substantial discount, in return for helping the real estate developer obtain municipal construction permits. The premier has denied wrongdoing in that case as well. Olmert was said to be suffering from the flu on Tuesday, causing police to limit their questioning to five hours. On Wednesday, he made a speedy recovery, and was even seen dancing at Vice Premier Haim Ramon's wedding to Vered Rivlin-Sharon at Kibbutz Ga'ash that night. The wedding between Ramon, 58, and Rivlin-Sharon, 41, who have been dating for four years, was conducted by former Shas chairman Aryeh Deri, and attended by President Shimon Peres and some 200 guests.


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