State Prosecutor Closes Bank Leumi Probe Against Olmert

Moshe Lador cites lack of evidence on claims outgoing prime minister interfered in bank's privatization.

State Prosecutor Moshe Lador informed Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's lawyers on Thursday that the investigation against him over the Bank Leumi affair would be closed due to lack of evidence.

The probe was over suspicions that while serving as Trade and Industry Minister, Olmert interfered in the privatization of the bank in order to benefit his friend, Australian tycoon Frank Lowy.

At the end of the investigation, the National Fraud Investigation Unit presented a detailed opinion which recommended closing the file in the absence of sufficient proof to bring Olmert to court.

The probe was one of a number of police investigations and allegations of improprieties have Olmert in recent years, the most recent of which have forced him to step down as prime minister.

The Bank Leumi investigation findings were then examined by a committee under Lador's leadership.

Olmert's media advisor Amir Dan welcomed the announcement. He said: "From the first day of the affair two years ago, the prime minister declared that this legal file should be closed."

"Nevertheless, he was attacked and accused day after day in a campaign against him by different bodies. It would have been appropriate to wait patiently instead of deciding the prime minister's case in such a harsh way," Dan added.