Police Finish Probe of Olmert on Bank Leumi Affair

Police investigators on Thursday questioned Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for the second time this week over suspicions he interfered in the privatization of Bank Leumi. The interview, which lasted less than four hours, was the second this week and is expected bring the police probe to an end.

The investigators will assess the evidence they have amassed and decide within weeks whether to recommend to Attorney General Menachem Mazuz to bring charges against the prime minister in the case.

Olmert, who underwent questioning under caution at his official residence in Jerusalem, is suspected of trying to influence the tender in the proposed sale of the controlling share of Bank Leumi in favor of his friend, Australian tycoon Frank Lowy. At the time, Olmert served as finance minister in the government of Ariel Sharon.

Investigators arrived early at the residence on Balfour Street and at 10 A.M. Olmert joined them, picking up the interview where it was left off on Tuesday after the prime minister asked to be excused because he was feeling ill.

Olmert gave the officers, headed by Brigadier General Shlomi Ayalon, his version of events regarding the suspicions against him in the Bank Leumi tender.

The investigators sought answers to suspicions Olmert altered the conditions of the tender on the basis of requests of Lowy's aides prior to the publication of the document.

Sources close to the investigation said that the decision on whether to ask for an indictment will be based on legal opinions at the police on whether Olmert's conduct constituted fraud and breach of trust.