Police announce new suspicions against Israeli premier

Israel Materials 11 July 2008 16:53 (UTC +04:00)

Israeli police Friday announced new, "serious" suspicions of corruption against Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Israel Radio reported.

Olmert is suspected of claiming travel expenses for trips made around the world as a public figure from various bodies at once, the radio said, quoting a joint statement issued by the Israeli justice ministry and police, reported dpa.

Olmert would allegedly get reimbursed for the same trip more than once by turning to various bodies and to the state, the radio said.

He is suspected of putting the money in a special bank account on his name and use it for private purposes, it added.

He allegedly did so while travelling abroad as mayor of Jerusalem and as trade and industry minister over the past years.

His travel agent which organized his flights would send receipts to each one of the different public bodies for the same flight, as if no similar receipts had been sent to other bodies as well, the radio said.

The new suspicions surfaced as part of an ongoing police investigation against the premier, which is looking into allegations that he illegally accepted tens, and possibly hundreds, of thousands of US dollars from a US businessman and fundraiser over a period of 15 years, before being elected prime minister early 2006.

The new suspicions are based on documents and witness accounts collected during the past weeks, the radio said.

Israel's attorney-general as a result authorized broadening the police investigation against Olmert already a month ago, but did not announce this so as to avoid jeopardizing Friday's questioning of the premier and to catch him unprepared, the radio said.