Israeli fraud squad detectives quiz Olmert for seventh time

Israel Materials 29 August 2008 13:35 (UTC +04:00)

Israeli Fraud Squad detectives arrived at Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's Jerusalem residence for the seventh time in recent months Friday morning, to question the premier on corruption affairs in which he is suspected of being involved.

It was unclear what this latest round of questioning would entail but Israeli media speculated that Olmert would be quizzed on political appointments he made, in contravention of Israeli law, when he served as minister of trade and industry before he became prime minister, reported dpa.

Israel Radio said it was also possible the premier would be interrogated on allegations that he bought a house at far below market price in an upscale Jerusalem neighbourhood, in return for helping the building contractor receive construction permits from the Jerusalem authorities.

Previous rounds of questioning undergone by Olmert centered on accusations that that in the years before he became prime minister he received hundreds of thousands of dollars, most of it via envelopes full of cash, from US-Jewish fundraiser Morris Talansky.

He has also been questioned regarding suspicions that he double-, and even triple-, billed sponsors for overseas visits, and used the extra money to pay for trips for his family, and that as trade and industry minister pushed for favourable responses to be given to grant applications submitted to the ministry's investment centre by clients of his former law partner.

Olmert has denied the accusations against him, but last month said he would not contest the leadership of his Kadima party in leadership primaries to be held next month, and would resign the premiership one his successor as party leader formed a new government.