Olmert's Disappearing Fingerprints

State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss confirmed what many have known for some time: Prime Minister Ehud Olmert grossly interfered with proper government procedure while industry and trade minister by exerting undue influence on the bureaucrats in charge of the Investments Center, which decides who receives government grants and how much.

Olmert's involvement in the center's affairs was interpreted numerous times as a directive or a recommendation to bend the law in favor of his associates.

Lindenstrauss elected not to wait for the publication of his annual report: Based on the suspicions, Olmert's aides' flagrant involvement in the ministry's affairs is a violation of governance standards established by the Investments Encouragement Law.

Lindenstrauss stated in this special report that the entrepreneur behind the project would ask Olmert to help advance his business dealings. Olmert would then pass on the request and instructions to his aides. The aides would then pressure the head of the Investments Center, Shmuel Mordechai, to carry out the minister's wishes.

Lindenstrauss was cautious in the language he used in describing Olmert's role in the affair, apparently due to a lack of ironclad evidence. It would also appear that Olmert knew not to leave fingerprints that would implicate him in the deed.

The "star" of the report is Mordechai, who time and again resisted the minister's entreaties. Mordechai was forced to leave his post before the end of his term. Olmert then appointed another "star" from the report, then-Tourism Ministry director general Aharon Domev, who issued unusual recommendations in an effort to advance the project.

Domev was forced out of his job after it was revealed that he failed to disclose he was under investigation while being considered for the position. He was subsequently convicted of fraud and illegally obtaining a job.