Police to take Olmert probe to the US

Detectives to travel to US in "coming days"; police commissioner rejects PM's attack on fraud unit.

david cohen 224.88 (photo credit: Israel Police)
david cohen 224.88
(photo credit: Israel Police)
Detectives from the National Fraud Unit will travel to the US "in the coming days" to continue the criminal investigation into Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Israel Police confirmed on Sunday. An Israel Police spokesman said the detectives would be "concentrating on their own lines of investigation," rather than spending time being briefed by their US counterparts. The National Fraud Unit will be in the US to track down the additional donors who sent the New York businessman Morris Talansky funds to pass on to Olmert, according to the former chief investigator of the Israel Police, Cmdr. (ret.) Moshe Mizrahi. "They're going to check who is behind the big money that Talansky raised. Talansky acted as fund-raiser, funneling other people's funds to Olmert. The police need to identify those other donors and find out what interests they represented. They will look at why these donors wanted Olmert to intervene for them," he said. "We still do not know who they are." The fact that police are attempting to trace additional American donors to Olmert indicates that detectives have not given up the wider scope of the investigation, despite coming under pressure from Attorney-General Menachem Mazuz to hasten the investigation last week. According to Mizrahi, police are already near the stage of being able to recommend that Olmert be indicted for violation of public trust, and could choose to investigate allegations of bribery at a later stage. Meanwhile, the media battle between the police and Olmert's lawyers continued on Sunday, as Police Commissioner David Cohen responded to an attack on the National Fraud Unit launched by Olmert during his second round of questioning, when he accused detectives of leaking information to the media, and of "misleading" him. "The police are treating the investigation into the prime minister, like any other investigation, with the full seriousness required," he said. "In recent days, I've heard attempts made at doubting detectives and the investigation team. I completely reject these efforts. I am closely monitoring the investigation team, and am receiving daily updates," Cohen added. "As police commissioner, I am convinced that the conduct of the investigating team is professional and free of all influences and interests. It is aimed at investigating the truth, while safeguarding the law and the dignity of those questioned."