Watchdog: Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert Illegally Named Political Allies to Business Authority

A report by a government watchdog has found that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert illegally named political allies to a business authority in a previous position as industry and trade minister, officials said Monday.

Olmert named four officials from his political party to key positions in the Small and Medium-Sized Business Authority, an official from the state comptroller's office, Zvi Vertikovsky, told Army Radio. A report on Olmert's involvement in the matter is slated to be released Monday, Vertikovsky said.

It was not immediately clear what criminal charges Olmert could face, if any, Vertikovsky said.

"According to the documents that we have in our hands there are fingerprints that lead also in his direction," Vertikovsky said.

Since the norms regarding the naming of officials to the authority — which is not governmental but receives funding from the Ministry of Industry and Trade — is not clear, the attorney general will have to consider whether or not to press charges against Olmert.

Vertikovsky did not say when Olmert made the appointments but said Olmert was a senior official in the Likud Party at the time. Since then Olmert has joined the Kadima Party.

The state comptroller is also looking into a Jerusalem property deal involving Olmert.

CountryWatch: Israel