Comptroller to audit Peres's office

Lindenstrauss will inspect administrative behavior of Beit Hanassi despite the president's objection.

lindenstrauss 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
lindenstrauss 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss said on Wednesday he will proceed with a general investigation into President Shimon Peres's office and staff. Peres had refused to allow Lindenstrauss's team to inspect his bureau, saying the Basic Law: President of the State protects him from "any court or tribunal." "This opposition amazes me. After all, these inspections are at the very heart of democracy," Lindenstrauss said during a meeting of the Knesset State Control Committee. "Our inspection does not concern the president's decisions but rather the administrative behavior of his bureau." Lindenstrauss's office said that while one section of the basic law protected the president, Section 2 of the Basic Law: The State Comptroller authorized the state comptroller to "audit the economy, the property, the finances, the obligations and administration of the state, of government offices, of all enterprises, institutions or corporations of the state, of local authorities and of the other bodies or institutions made subject by law to the audit of the state comptroller." "It is inconceivable that a political body would refuse inspection. The Knesset needs to respond to this," Lindenstrauss said. "I cannot believe that this can happen in Israel and I will not give up." When Miriam Ben-Porat was state comptroller, she investigated Beit Hanassi. Lindenstrauss and Peres have butted heads in the past, with the state comptroller suggesting that there were improprieties in the size of contributions that Peres had received for his Labor Party leadership campaign. Beit Hanassi, in a statement released on Wednesday, said that throughout its history, the president's bureau and staff had maintained an internal control unit in accordance with the standards of the state comptroller. If the state comptroller were to operate in Beit Hanassi, this would contravene both the Basic Law: President of the State and the Basic Law: The State Comptroller, according to the statement. The chief administrators at Beit Hanassi recently launched a new effort to strengthen their internal controls, inviting their counterparts from the State Comptroller's Office to a working meeting to examine the management, supervision, controls and efficiency. Beit Hanassi staff members are currently completing the final draft of a tender to be issued for a professional external audit firm. It is unclear whether this will satisfy the State Comptroller's Office, which can argue that every state institution has an internal comptroller, but that this does not exempt any of them from inspection and audit by the state comptroller. Beit Hanassi can counter that it is already subordinate to the accountant-general in the Finance Ministry and that all information pertaining to employees, tenders, contracts and payments of any kind, etc are subject to the scrutiny of the accountant-general, and that therefore further audit by the comptroller-general is unnecessary.