(photo credit: Ariel Harmoni / Defense Ministry)
Defense Minister Ehud Barak told the State Control Committee on Monday that he
“accepted all the state comptroller’s findings” regarding transfer of companies
to his family members immediately before his cabinet appointment in
The State Control Committee had convened a follow-up meeting on a
report published last May by State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss, which
examined the defense minister’s actions with regard to his international
consulting company, Ehud Barak Ltd, which he founded in 2002.
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to the report, Barak transferred funds from that company to his daughters three
days before he joined Ehud Olmert’s cabinet as defense minister in June 2007,
and also failed to notify the Special Exemptions Committee of all his
Lindenstrauss said that while Barak’s actions were not criminal
they did raise a conflict of interest.
The state comptroller, who
examined Barak’s transfer of the company according to guidelines established to
prevent conflicts of interest between the business and public activities of
ministers, deputy ministers and ministerial candidates, said Barak’s actions
constituted a grave violation of public norms.
Barak’s transfer of stocks
to his daughters did not distance him completely from interest in the companies,
as required by the regulations, Lindenstrauss’s report said, noting that Barak’s
companies made more than NIS 4.5 million between 2007 and 2009, after he joined
In Monday’s meeting, Barak said that all of the actions he
had taken to transfer company shares to his daughters had been carried out in
“good faith and with transparency.”
Barak also said that when he was
appointed defense minister in June 2007, he had to “cease five years’ worth of
business activity immediately.”
“Since the report was published, I have
used every means at my disposal to implement its recommendations,” Barak
The defense minister told the committee that the transfer of the
companies to his daughters was “not against the rules, but against the spirit of
the rules as set out by the state comptroller,” and that he had handed over all
company information, including balance sheets and financial reports, to
The defense minister added that after his
appointment to the government, the companies ceased all business activity except
for collecting funds, and that those revenues pertained to past business
Barak also updated the committee regarding the status of the
consulting companies, which he said are in liquidation and no longer
Committee chairman Ronnie Bar-On (Kadima) called on the
government to finalize the matter by signing an agreement with Barak.
Arye Eldad (National Union), a former chairman of the Knesset Ethics Committee,
called on the government to establish clear rules of conduct not only for
ministers but also for those with ambitions to become ministers.
MK Einat Wilf (Independence) criticized the idea of extending rules to apply to
potential ministerial candidates, which she said would be a “dramatic expansion”
of the current situation.
“Every MK wants to be a minister,” Wilf argued.