Mazuz OKs probe of PM in Leumi affair

Police say they have acquired "significant" evidence in gov't tender case.

ehud olmert profile 88 (photo credit: )
ehud olmert profile 88
(photo credit: )
Attorney General Menahem Mazuz okayed a police request to investigate Prime Minister Ehud Olmert under warning in connection with the Bank Leumi affair, Channel 10 reported Wednesday. So far the investigation has centered only on people from Olmert's circle but not on the prime minister himself. Police said the material they had acquired thus far was "significant," adding that contact has been made with the prime minister's attorneys regarding the date of the investigation, scheduled for the coming days. Investigators finished questioning a major witness in New York recently, and in April, police sent a team to Australia to question billionaire Frank Lowy in connection with the affair. Olmert is suspected of intervening in the government tender for sale of the controlling interest in Bank Leumi on behalf of Lowy and American Slim-Fast magnate S. Daniel Abraham, another close associate of Olmert. The criminal investigation into the bank tender was opened in January, a year after State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss began to probe claims of favoritism on Olmert's part. Accountant-General Yaron Zelekha was the key witness, claiming that Olmert, then acting as finance minister, interfered to help his friends. In other news, lawyer Yossef Gross, whose daughter is married to one of Olmert's sons, wrote to Mazuz asking whether his involvement in development projects in Eilat might be tainted by his ties with the prime minister and the latter's involvement in the Investment Center affair. Mazuz wrote to Gross that even though it was not the attorney general's duty to interfere in legal issues of private persons, Gross was right to question whether his family ties with Olmert would be considered a conflict of interest, and he added that Gross should exercise caution in his dealings. Rebecca Anna Stoil contributed to this report.