Comptroller checking new allegation against Olmert

State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss refused to comment Tuesday on a report by Channel 10 news that he was investigating a new allegation involving Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and the Authority for Small and Medium Businesses. "We are examining a number of issues involving the Authority for Small and Medium Businesses," Lindenstrauss told the Knesset State Control Committee. "It is not our custom to divulge details while the investigation is going on." According to the television report, Olmert, during his term as minister of industry and commerce under prime minister Ariel Sharon, allegedly gave government grants of NIS 7.5 million to Ramo Ben-Shoshan, a member of the Likud central committee who owned a factory in the North. The state comptroller has already issued a report on Olmert's relations with the Small and Medium-Sized Businesses Authority in which he accused him of making several improper political appointments. That report was published on August 28, 2006. Lindenstrauss found that Olmert and ministry director-general Ra'anan Dinur had appointed a woman with close political ties to the minister as the deputy director-general of the authority. She, in turn, appointed at least three new project managers who were members of the Likud central committee. The authority is technically a private organization but is funded by the government. A few months after publishing the report, Lindenstrauss announced that his office had discovered new material linking Olmert to political appointments in the authority.