Former Israel Premier Olmert Indicted for Graft

Harinder Mishra/ Jerusalem
Former Israel Premier Olmert Indicted for Graft
Israel's former Premier Ehud Olmert has been indicted on graft charges including fraud, breach of trust and tax evasion, making him the first former prime minister in the country's history to face criminal charges.

He was formally indicted on three counts of corruption, including charges of fraud, breach of trust, crony-ism, falsifying corporate records and tax evasion, the State Prosecutor's Office said.

Following months of investigation, Olmert faces indictment in three cases, the first of which involves accepting cash envelopes from US businessman Morris Talansky.

Olmert is also suspected of illegally double-billing charities and a government ministry for the same flights he booked through Rishon Tours, sending them falsified receipts for travel expenses and using the surplus to finance personal and family trips abroad.

The third case popularly known as 'The Investments Center affair' relates to allegations that the former premier granted personal favours to his old law partner, Uri Messer, who was acting on behalf of a company, an act which would constitute a conflict of interest, breach of trust, and fraud.

All the three cases are from the time he served as Mayor of Jerusalem and Minister for Trade, Industry and Labour.

Olmert had resigned in September last year amid a string of graft cases, but remained in office as a caretaker until Benjamin Netanyahu was sworn in in March.

The State Prosecutor's Office also filed charges against Shula Zaken, Olmert's former bureau chief, for her involvement in the Talansky and Rishontours affairs.

Zakne will face charges of falsifying corporate records, fraudulently obtaining benefits, fraud and breach of trust, as well as illegal wiretapping.

Olmert's legal team said the filing of charges waived the former Premier's right to a judiciary hearing prior to the indictment being filed, citing that Attorney General Menachem Mazuz did not intent to conduct an "open minded hearing".

Olmert and his defence team are said to be planning to launch a PR campaign to convince the public that the allegations against him are unfounded.

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