Police wary of reopening Barak case

Former Labor Party field campaign manager claims to have new incriminating info relating to 6-yr probe.

ehud barak 224.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
ehud barak 224.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Former Labor Party field campaign manager Shmuel Levy walked into the National Fraud Unit offices in Bat Yam on Monday, claiming to have new and incriminating information on Defense Minister Ehud Barak dating back to the 1999 general elections and a subsequent six-year-long police investigation which ended without charges. Police launched a probe in 2000 after suspecting that several non-governmental organizations were used to illegally raise funds for the One Israel Labor campaign in 1999. Chief suspects in the investigation included former government secretary and current Welfare Minister Isaac Herzog; lawyer Doron Cohen, who was Barak's right-hand man; and Tal Zilberstein, Barak's former campaign manager. Police ended the investigation after failing to convince any of the key players to testify - including Levy, who rejected an offer to turn state's witness. Police were keen to use Levy as a witness as he served as head of one of the NGOs which was suspected of illegally raising funds for the Labor campaign. "The meeting today at the National Fraud Unit was initiated by Levi," a police spokeswoman said. "We can't disclose the content of the meeting, but we will examine what he says." A police source added that police were treating Levy's sudden change of heart with suspicion, adding that the National Fraud Unit could not rule out a political motive behind Levy's sudden willingness to talk. "We are not terribly excited over this at this stage," the source said. Levy is engaged in a separate battle with the Labor Party, claiming it owes him NIS 14 million for past services. In a letter to Barak last week, he threatened to take legal action if the sums were not transferred within two weeks. In recent weeks Zilberstein sent a veiled threat in Barak's direction after the defense minister condemned Olmert for his alleged role in the Talansky affair. "Barak is the last man who can talk about ethics in regards to the Talansky investigation of the prime minister," he said during an Army Radio interview a few weeks ago. "Take everything you have, and go with it immediately to the police," Barak said in response. Barak's associates said Levy was trying to extort money from the party. They said his claims were baseless and the investigation would prove this. They added that if a police investigation were launched formally, they would cooperate with it. Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.