Facing Ouster, Accountant-General Accuses PM of Personal Vendetta

Zelekha: Olmert trying to have me fired since his involvement in Bank Leumi affair emerged in February 2006.

Accountant General Yaron Zelekha on Tuesday said that the Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has been personally persecuting him since February 2006, when a state comptroller investigation revealed the prime minister's involvement in impropriety surrounding the government sale of Bank Leumi shares.

Zelekha spoke at a State Control Committee discussion on the finance minister's announced intent not to renew the accountant general's term, effectively dismissing Zelekha from his post and the end of a four-year tenure.

The ouster has sparked criticism and accusations of impure motives, as Zelekha uncovered the Bank Leumi affair and is considered a steadfast fighter against government corruption.

"Olmert is publicly lying when he claims that he had tried to fire me a long time before [the details of the Bank Leumi affair emerged]," Zelekha said at the meeting.

According to Zelekha, "there have been four attempts to remove me from office, and there may have been more."

"Only someone who is deaf and blind would fail to realize that strange things happened surrounding the Bank Leumi affair. We tried to complain in real time, while the shares were being sold, but the sale continued and we remained alone. On November 7 one of the senior Finance Ministry officials spoke to me and told me that if I continue to complain against these moves, I will destroy myself and the department," Zelekha added.

Zelekha announced that he never intended to stay on as accountant general much longer, only until "I complete the reforms I want to institute and the battle against corruption in the government."

During the discussion, Finance Minister Roni Bar-On stressed that he had not dismissed the accountant general, but rather refrained from renewing his contract. He said that over the last 20 years, the term of an accountant general has been extended only once, "I intend to be vigilant in keeping the terms of senior ministry officials short," he said, and explained that he had discussed this matter in a friendly fashion with Zelekha in the past.

Finance Ministry Director General Yarom Ariav said that following the completion of Zelekha's term, the department will become "sane again."

"Ministry employees need to operate in harmony, and not be in the spotlight, which interferes with their work," Ariav said.