Ehud Olmert 311 AP Good Quality.
(photo credit: AP)
The High Court of Justice on Thursday rejected a petition filed by the
good government watchdog group asking that the court instruct the state
prosecution to once again consider filing charges against former prime
Ehud Olmert in the Bank Leumi shares case.
The court cited a lack of
sufficient evidence to file criminal charges.
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In January 2007, a criminal
investigation was initiated against Olmert focused on suspicions that during his
tenure as finance minister, he tried to steer the tender for the sale of the
state’s shares in Bank Leumi to help Slovak-born Australian real estate tycoon
Frank Lowy, a close personal associate. The police investigated the case and
eventually concluded that the evidence was insufficient for an
While Justice Edna Arbel said on Thursday that State Attorney
Moshe Lador’s reasons for closing the case had been sufficient, she also
criticized his decision not pursue the case further.
“The picture that
arises from the state attorney’s decision [to close the case] does not
reader with a comfortable feeling,” Arbel said. “Even if [Lador] had
there was not enough proof to present a petition, the picture that comes
the proof that does exist is worrying.
“A situation in which families and
friends are mixed up in the sale of state property that affects the
the market is not a matter to be taken lightly,” she continued.
spokesman for Olmert praised the High Court’s decision, saying that the
privatization had been undertaken legally and had in fact benefited the
“[Olmert’s] sale of bank shares was done properly, wisely,
transparently and was of great use to the Israeli economy,” Olmert’s
adviser, Amir Dan, said in a statement released on Thursday
“The Supreme Court has unequivocally ruled that
Olmert performed no criminal act, and the prosecution and police have
determined this as well.”
“All other comments by the court are opinions
worthy of study,” Dan continued. “But they are not legally binding, nor
place blame on the intentions or the business-like manner in which Mr.
went about selling the bank shares.”
Ometz: Citizens for Fair Government
and Social Justice had petitioned the court regarding the decision to
proceedings in the case, saying that Lador’s decision not to send Olmert
trial was unreasonable, and that there was proof Olmert had hidden a
interest – particularly his connection to wealthy Lowy – in the
“It is clear that Olmert did not reveal his connections with Lowy
and tried to change the conditions of the sale in [Lowy’s] favor, while
the requests of other groups,” the petition read.
Last summer, Olmert was
also let off the hook in the “Cremieux Street affair” – in which the
prime minister was suspected of paying a below market price for an
exchange for using his influence to increase the size of the structure
contractor was allowed to build.
In July 2009, then-attorneygeneral
Menahem Mazuz announced that he was closing proceedings against Olmert
the real estate deal, as there was insufficient evidence to justify the
of criminal charges.