State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss has asked Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for his response to the draft of his report on allegations that Olmert received a bribe worth hundreds of thousands of dollars from a land developer who sold him a house in Jerusalem, a senior official in the State Comptroller's Office said Sunday. "Over the weekend, the state comptroller sent a copy of the report to the prime minister for his reaction," the official said. The state comptroller's investigation was based on a complaint lodged by investigative reporter Yoav Yitzhak, publisher of the on-line site, "News First Class." Yitzhak sent Lindenstrauss a copy of an investigative piece he published about the alleged affair on February 28, 2006.
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According to the allegations included in Yitzhak's report, Olmert purchased a home at 8 Cremieux St. in Jerusalem from Alumot, a development and building company, for at least $320,000 less than its market value.
In return, Olmert, who had been mayor of Jerusalem for eight years, allegedly used his connections and influence to bend the planning laws, thereby enabling Alumot and its owner, Gil Mastei, to add another building and double the amount of floor space he could build on the lot.
Yitzhak claimed that Olmert paid $3,306 per square meter for an apartment of 310 square meters. Alumot allegedly sold another apartment in the complex for $6,000 per square meter.
He also charged that with Olmert's help, Alumot received permission from the Jerusalem municipal council to more than double his building rights on the property, even though the building on the site had been classified as a preservation site, where no changes were allowed.
Nevertheless, the city allegedly allowed Alumot to dismantle, move and rebuild the preserved building to make room for another building of about the same size on the same plot.
It is not clear whether Lindenstrauss's findings in the investigation, which was conducted by the special corruption task force of Ya'acov Borovsky, tally with Yitzhak's complaints. On Sunday, Yitzhak wrote an article breaking the news that the state comptroller had sent a draft of his report to Olmert. In the same report, he stated that Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz had already told the top echelon in his office that he would launch a criminal investigation against Olmert as soon as he received Lindenstrauss's report.
However, Justice Ministry spokesman Moshe Cohen denied the statement. All Mazuz had said was that he would study the report carefully if Lindenstrauss decided to refer it to him to see whether there was cause to launch a criminal investigation, he said.â€¢