News / Middle East

Former Israeli PM Implicated in Bribery Scandal

Robert Berger

A former Israeli leader is embroiled in a new corruption scandal.

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has been named as the key suspect in what is being described as one of the biggest corruption scandals in Israel's history. Police suspect that Mr. Olmert took hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes in connection with a real estate project when he was mayor of Jerusalem in the 1990s.

He denies any wrongdoing.

"This is an unprecedented attempt at character assassination…and there is not one shred of truth in it," Mr. Olmert said.

In a televised statement, he said he has never been offered a bribe and has never taken a bribe.

Mr. Olmert's political downfall began two years ago when an American-Jewish businessman testified that he gave him envelopes stuffed with tens of thousands of dollars in cash to support a lavish lifestyle, including fancy cigars and hotels and first-class travel. In a separate case, he is accused of double- and triple-billing Jewish organizations for public trips abroad and pocketing the difference.

This allegedly took place when he was mayor of Jerusalem and a Cabinet minister, prior to becoming prime minister in 2006.

Mr. Olmert is currently on trial for bribery and fraud, and now he is expected to face additional charges. If convicted, the former Israeli prime minister could wind up in jail.

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