Diamond Mogul Quizzed Over Alleged Bribes to Lieberman

Foreign minister's attorneys: Lieberman barred by law from responding to questions while probe continues.

Millionaire diamond trader Dan Gertler has been questioned by Israeli police twice under caution in connection with criminal allegations against Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Haaretz has learned. At the beginning of the year, Israeli police investigators surprised Gertler by meeting him as he got off his private plane. He was informed that he was suspected of giving Lieberman a bribe. Under interrogation, Gertler was asked if he had joint business dealings with Lieberman and whether he had transferred funds to companies allegedly controlled by Lieberman. Gertler flatly denied the allegations and said he had neither transferred funds to Lieberman nor had joint business dealings with the him.

Gertler, 35, did acknowledge that after Lieberman resigned as director general of the Prime Minister's Office in 1998, Gertler employed him for a very short time as an advisor and paid him the equivalent of thousands of dollars. Gertler has since been interrogated a second time, but was allowed by police to leave the country to pursue his widespread business interests abroad.

Haaretz has learned that the investigation of Gertler is due to conclude in the coming weeks, at which point the police will submit its recommendations to the state prosecution.

In a response Gertler's lawyer said, "The subject of Mr. Gertler's relationship with Minister Lieberman was investigated. Mr. Gertler was questioned and provided his full version of the events and then went on his way. His conduct has been impeccable in the matter."

Lieberman's attorneys stated, "As long as the investigation continues Minister Lieberman is barred by law from responding to questions.

"It should be noted that Lieberman responded to all of the questions of the police individually and concretely. In this connection, it should be stressed that in all of the years that Minister Lieberman served in public positions he did not conduct any private business whatsoever."

A police source indicated that the investigation against Gertler is continuing.