POLICE PROBE LIEBERMAN FOR FRAUD

Fraud squad police say “Israel Our Home” chairman suspected of taking bribes, fraud and breach of faith. Suspects questioned for eight hours Sunday.

Efrat Weiss
Published:
04.22.07, 19:42 / Israel News

Minister of Strategic Affair Avigdor Lieberman is suspected of accepting bribes, fraud, breach of faith and crimes in violation of laws against money laundering, police sources told Ynet Sunday after and eight-hour probe at the National Unit for Fraud Investigations offices in Bat Yam.

Throughout the day Sunday, a series of private businessmen were questioned on suspicion of involvement in the affair. Some had their premises searched, and in a number of cases materials were confiscated by police.

In the next few days investigators will review the information they have collected.

In his testimony to investigators, Lieberman completely rejected the suspicions against him.

Responding to the probe, Lieberman’s spokespeople declared his innocence and said his testimony should soon clear up the suspicions against him.

“During the past year (Lieberman) turned to the attorney general four times, in writing and in person, demanding to be probed quickly to put the affair behind him. Therefore he is pleased to have been summoned for questioning and hopes this will bring a swift end to the affair,” they said.

The Schlaff link

The lawmaker is suspected of accepting money illegally from Austrian financier Martin Schlaff, who was also the star of the Cyril Kern affair involving the Sharon family.

He is suspected of receiving funds through fictitious accounts registered in Cyprus and failing to report them. Police investigators demanded he account for the money, which was allegedly used to finance “Israel Our Home’s” last election campaign.

Over the past few months, police from the fraud unit traveled to Cyprus for a judicial inquiry to question witnesses linked to the affair.

Following their findings, Attorney General Menahem Mazuz authorized an investigation into the strategic affairs minister.

Another affair

Simultaneously, a probe into Lieberman has been ongoing since a State Comptroller’s Report in 2000 suggested fiscal irregularities in “Israel Our Home’s” books.

The comptroller’s report wrote that the party “received a credit line at an Israeli bank for one million dollars. A bank guarantee from a Vienna bank secured the credit line. The Viennese bank received a personal guarantee from a foreign resident as security for the guarantee.”

The ‘foreign resident’ is reportedly Martin Schlaff.

Exactly one year ago, during initial coalition negotiations between Kadima and Israel Our Home, Lieberman asked for the Interior Ministry portfolio. However, Mazuz ruled out the possibility due to the criminal investigation.

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