Olmert faces charges over government jobs

By Anshel Pfeffer, May 6, 2010

State Prosecutors are planning yet another indictment of former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Mr Olmert, along with one of his closes aides, will be charged with making dozens of illegal political appointments in government agencies.

He is currently on trial on three charges of fraud and acceptance of illegal payments and is expected to be questioned in the "Holyland" case of alleged bribery for building permits.

He is the main suspect in that case.

The Justice Ministry announced on Monday that it had sufficient evidence against Mr Olmert and his former senior aide, Ovad Yehezkel, for charges of fraud and breach of confidence regarding the appointment of dozens of Likud party members to government positions in 2004 and 2005.

He will be charged with making dozens of illegal political appointments

Mr Olmert was at the time Minister of Industry, Trade and Employment and controlled a large number of government agencies.

Israeli Police have been investigating the appointments for two and a half years and believe that Mr Olmert, through his aide, used his powers to further his political aims and gather more influential supporters within the Likud.

During that period, he had the support of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon but was largely unpopular within the party. According to the indictment, party members were appointed to senior posts in Israel Land Agency, the Postal Agency, the Small Businesses Agency, telecommunications company Bezek, the Employment Agency and as public representatives in the Labour Court.

Mr Yehezkel, who served as Mr Olmert's right-hand man for 15 years, and was Cabinet Secretary during the Olmert premiership, has alleged to police that he directed the relevant agencies to make the appointments on Mr Olmert's express instructions.

This week, it was revealed in court during the remand hearing of Mr Olmert's former secretary, Shula Zaken, that police believe he received over a million shekels in bribes from the owners of the Holyland building project. The former prime minister is expected to be questioned on these allegations in the next few days.

Mr Olmert's spokesperson denied the allegations and said that the announcement on the new indictment was "part of a planned campaign of persecution designed to influence the judicial process".

Mr Olmert is currently on trial at the Jerusalem District Court on multiple charges of fraud and accepting illegal payments.

Last updated: 2:53pm, May 6 2010