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Israeli Prime Minister Questioned in Connection with Corruption Case


Israeli fraud investigators questioned Prime Minister Ehud Olmert Thursday over allegations that he tried to steer the sale of one of Israel's biggest banks to a friend.

Mr. Olmert was questioned for several hours at his official residence in Jerusalem. The investigation is focused on the sale of the government-owned Bank Leumi in 2005, when the prime minister was serving as acting finance minister. Mr. Olmert is suspected of trying to steer the sale to Australian Frank Lowy, a billionaire real estate developer.

Investigators also questioned the prime minister for several hours on Tuesday.

Mr. Olmert is also under investigation for his purchase of a Jerusalem apartment in 2004. Suspicion has grown that he was given a discounted price, in return for helping the builder obtain construction permits from the city government.

The investigations come as the prime minister's approval ratings are recovering after stinging criticism over his handling of last year's war in Lebanon.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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