State comptroller to probe PM scandal

Lindenstrauss to check claims that Olmert arranged jobs for Likud members.

By DAN IZENBERG, ETGAR LEFKOVITS
March 1, 2007 12:12
2 minute read.
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Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz said on Thursday that he will examine the allegations reported by Channel 10 that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert provided political favors to 115 members of the Likud central committee when he headed the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor. The television report cited an internal memo listing the committee members who had been helped. "We intend to ask for the said document and all the material connected to it, and the matter will be examined by the attorney-general and the state prosecution in an orderly way, as is customary," Mazuz said in a brief statement to the press. State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss said he had not yet been given the document. "When the State Comptroller's Office receives the list, it will be examined, as is normal in such circumstances, in order to see whether there are issues that the office should look into," he said. In the morning, before Mazuz's announcement, the Movement for Quality Government called on the attorney-general to open a criminal investigation into the allegations. According to Channel 10, Olmert, while serving as Minister of industry, trade and labor, minister in charge of the Israel Lands Administration, the Israel Broadcasting Authority and other public institutions, supplied foreign workers, arranged jobs, prevented dismissals, secured promotions and provided other favors for 115 members of the Likud central committee. The six-page memo, which was allegedly penned by a former Olmert adviser, reportedly shows how and his associates granted the relatives of central committee members permits to employ foreign workers, promoted or prevented the dismissal of postal workers, and acted to rezone agricultural land for construction. According to the report, Olmert unduly used his influence in several departments under his control, including the Industry and Trade Ministry's Investment Center, the Israel Small- and Medium-Enterprises Authority, the Employment Bureau and the Foreign Workers unit. The Prime Minister's Office said Olmert was unaware of the contents of the document until the report was broadcast on Wednesday night, and that all the actions taken were completely legal. Avi Moskovitch, a former assistant to the postal service director-general, told Channel 10 on Thursday that the premier's men had pressured senior postal officials to promote his associates. "Every week, I would get a list of names of people to promote," Moskovitch said. Moskovitch said that once, when a person on the list failed to win a tender for the job he was supposed to get, he was asked to explain why he had mishandled the issue. In an earlier interview, Moskovitch said a senior Olmert associate directly pressured him to ensure that the jobs were allocated to the right people. Moskovitch told Army Radio that Oded Yehezkel, an Olmert crony who is slated to be the next cabinet secretary, repeatedly called him to ensure the appointments went through. Meanwhile, Jamie Elgrod, a former political adviser to Olmert who was thought to be the author of the document, told Channel 10, that was not the case. "As an adviser, I do not have connections in such places," Elgrod told Channel 10.

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