Police grill PM and wife for five hours over Cremieux affair

The prime minister is suspected of interceding on behalf of parties in exchange for bribery and illegally receiving a gift.

aliza olmert, 298 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
aliza olmert, 298
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Police questioned Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his wife, Aliza, for five hours on Friday morning at the premier's Jerusalem residence over his $1.2 million purchase of an apartment in Jerusalem in 2004, a source close to Olmert said. Olmert has long faced suspicions that while serving as acting prime minister, he bought the apartment on Cremieux Street in the Germany Colony neighborhood from its developer, the Alumot MG Engineering Corporation, at significantly below its market value in exchange for shortening bureaucratic processes within the Jerusalem Municipality for Alumot. The prime minister is suspected of interceding on behalf of parties in exchange for bribery and illegally receiving a gift. Amir Dan, spokesman for the prime minister, told The Jerusalem Post the interrogation session was held in a "comfortable" setting, and that Olmert answered all of the questions put to him. Dan stressed that Aliza Olmert was not questioned under caution, as she was not suspected of wrongdoing. "It's nice that after two years of myths surrounding the purchase of the apartment, the police have finally allowed the prime minister to provide answers. This is the first time that police came to Olmert and asked him for his answers on this," Dan said. In what has become routine practice, National Fraud Unit officers arrived at Olmert's residence early to set up the necessary recording equipment, a process described by former Fraud Unit senior investigator Dep.-Cmdr. (ret.) Boaz Gutman as similar to the preparations TV crews make before filming interviews. Before Friday's interrogation, law enforcement sources said they believed Olmert would also be questioned over suspicions that he arranged investment opportunities for his longtime friend and former law partner Uri Messer while serving as industry, trade and labor minister. According to the suspicions, Olmert granted large state investment funds to a factory that Messer was hired to represent. A number of law enforcement sources have said they believe Olmert will be indicted in the coming weeks. He could also be charged over the Rishon Tours affair, in which he is suspected of double-billing charities and a government ministry for the same flights, and using the excess to fund private family flights. He may also face charges over illegally accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars from Long Island businessman Morris Talansky.