Where Did Dan Halutz Put His Money?

It's generally agreed that the Chief of Staff goofed, ethically speaking, when he sold his portfolio of shares in the middle of the day Israeli soldiers were kidnapped and war broke out. Top army officers are howling for his head, some pundits are arguing in his favor and one burning question has remained unanswered: Where did Dan Halutz put his money?

Yedioth Aharonoth reported that his NIS 120,000 portfolio, shed at noon on July 12, had contained mostly units in Psagot mutual funds, most of which invested in foreign, not Israeli, securities. The chief of staff had also owned shares in Teva.

Leumi investigating leak in Halutz affair

Bank Leumi is seething over the possible leak from the bank of Chief of Staff Dan Halutz's private affairs on the day the war with Lebanon broke out.

Reporter Yehuda Sharoni of Maariv broke the story, and the question is how the media got ahold of the details.

The bank's top brass has ordered an investigation into the staff, to determine if the leak originated at Leumi. The bank's internal auditor, Yosi Horovitz, is checking the telephone records of employees. So far he has not found any evidence that a bank employee was involved, but the investigation is not over yet.

Halutz has confirmed that he sold his portfolio three hours after the two Israeli soldiers were kidnapped on July 12, triggering the 33-day war with Hezbullah in Lebanon. He called the Bank Leumi branch at Dizengoff Center at noon and ordered the bank to sell his entire portfolio, Maariv revealed.

While top army officers and not a few members of the public are calling for his head, the chief of staff is adamant that he did no wrong.

The Israel Securities Authority clarifies that there is no law prohibiting the top soldier from running his own portfolio. Insider information under Israeli law is confined to traded companies, not to estimations about the general situation. But calls are mounting for Halutz to step down over the appearance of dereliction of duty.

Halutz told Maariv that the selloff had nothing to do with imminent war, which he said he knew nothing about: he had already lost NIS 25,000, he explained, and accused the paper of impropriety in linking his private affairs to the abduction of the soldiers. He also called the report malicious, biased, and motivated by vested interests.