News24

Ex-PM Olmert faces new charges

2011-03-14 20:29

Jerusalem - Israel's State Prosecutor's Office announced Monday it intends indicting former premier Ehud Olmert and 17 other people for bribery and other charges relating to a huge Jerusalem real-estate project.

The 18 have all been informed that, subject to hearing, they may stand trial, a justice ministry statement said.

In August 2010 the police, wrapping up an investigation in the so- called "Holyland affair", after the name of the real-estate project, recommended that Olmert face corruption charges on suspicion of accepting a bribe in order to advance the interests of real-estate developers involved in the deal.

Olmert allegedly received the bribes when Jerusalem mayor, and then when Minister of Trade and Industry after his mayoralty ended in 2003.

When the scandal broke in April 2010 , police suspected that, between 1999 and 2008, the Holyland Development Company and associated land developers paid millions of dollars in bribes to senior decision makers in the Jerusalem municipality, members of its planning and construction committee, and officials in the Israel Land Administration.

At stake was approval for the luxury Holyland housing project in south-west Jerusalem and additional projects in the north of the country.

Olmert, who made his name as a freshman legislator in the 1970s by taking on organised crime in Israel, resigned the premiership in 2008, and is currently standing trial over other corruption allegations.