Olmert hands over sale contract

Comptroller investigating $2.7m sale of J'lem home to US billionaire.

lindestrauss 298 88 aj (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
lindestrauss 298 88 aj
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Wednesday he had handed documents related to the sale of his Jerusalem home to the State Comptroller. The documents included the sales contract for the house in Jerusalem's Katamon neighborhood, the rental contract he signed with the buyer, US billionaire Daniel Abraham, after selling him the house and other documents. State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss is investigating the sale of the house for $2.7 million to Abraham, who has contributed to the election campaigns of various politicians, including Olmert. After purchasing the house, Abraham agreed to let the Olmerts stay in it until construction on their new home was completed. The monthly rental fee is reportedly $2,600, and at least one real estate agent said Abraham could have obtained twice as much on the open market. In addition to center and left-wing politicians, Abraham has contributed to Israeli universities and philanthropic projects, including those aimed at bringing Arabs and Jews closer. According to Shlomit Lavi, a senior assistant to the State Comptroller, Lindenstrauss said he would try to wind up the examination and publish the results quickly. Meanwhile, Attorney Yaakov Ne'eman, who brokered the sale of Olmert's home to Abraham in 2004, asserted Wednesday morning that the deal was "completely kosher." "This was an absolutely standard sale," Ne'eman told Army Radio, adding that "nothing prevents a public figure from selling his home at the market price." Ne'eman said that in his opinion, using a legitimate home sale as election propaganda was an unfair attempt to harm a public official. The attorney denied claims that Olmert sold his home to Abraham for an inflated price, and emphasized that Olmert continues to occupy the house until the one he is building in Jerusalem's German Colony is ready, and that he pays Abraham a fair rent. Ne'eman insisted that both the sale and rental prices were based on a professional appraisal that was done shortly before the contract was signed.