Financial News

  • 13 May 2014, 19:07

Israeli Ex-PM Ehud Olmert Jailed For Bribery

A former prime minister of Israel has been jailed for six years for his part in a wide-ranging bribery case that shocked the nation.

Ehud Olmert, one of the country's most powerful men, was sentenced at Tel Aviv's district court in connection with property scandal related to Olmert's activities before he became PM in 2006.

Tuesday's sentencing followed a guilty verdict that was handed down by the same court in March.

The 68-year-old Olmert, who was found guilty in March, has always insisted he is innocent and never took a bribe. He will appeal the verdict and the sentence.

"This is a sad day where a serious and unjust verdict is expected to be delivered against an innocent man," Olmert's spokesman Amir Dan before sentencing.

According to the verdict, millions of dollars illegally changed hands to promote a series of property projects, including a controversial housing development in Jerusalem that required a radical change in zoning laws and earned developers tax breaks and other benefits.

Olmert, who was mayor of Jerusalem, was accused of taking bribes to push the project forward - he was subsequently forced to resign as PM in 2009 because of the corruption claims.

The case centred around the Holyland housing development, a huge hilltop project that Jerusalem residents had long suspected was linked to corrupt deals.

The claims gained strength in 2010 when businessman Shmuel Dechner turned state's witness. Dechner died last year from an illness.

The indictment against Olmert accused Olmert of seeking money, through a middleman, from Holyland developers to help out his brother, Yossi, who fled Israel because of financial problems. According to the indictment, Yossi Olmert received about $100,000 (£60,000).

Olmert was also accused of asking the middleman to help out cash-strapped city engineer Uri Sheetrit.

Sheetrit later dropped his opposition to the broad expansion of the Holyland complex, which grew from a small development into a massive, high-rise project that dwarfed low-rise neighbours. He has now been sentenced to seven years in prison.

A number of other former government officials, developers and businesspeople have been sentenced to terms of between three to five years.

 

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