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Israel opens criminal probe into Olmert real estate purchase

[JURIST] The Israeli Attorney General announced Monday that he was opening an investigation into a real estate purchase made by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert [official website]. The criminal probe centers on a Jerusalem apartment for which Olmert paid the value of 320,000 American dollars. Olmert is accused of receiving the apartment at a substantially reduced price in exchange for helping a construction company obtain illegal building permits. Israeli Attorney General Menahem Mazuz [official profile] authorized the initial investigation to determine whether a further probe is warranted.

This is not the first time Olmert has been investigated for questionable deals. In April, Olmert was investigated for improperly favoring his supporters [JURIST report] in distributing business grants when he was trade minister in 2001. Olmert has also endured accusations that he promoted the interests of two business associates during the 2005 state sale of Bank Leumi [corporate website]. In January, the Israeli Ministry of Justice announced plans to launch an investigation [JURIST report] into allegations surrounding Olmert's involvement with the sale of Bank Leumi. Throughout the scandals, Olmert has maintained that he has done nothing wrong. AFP has more. Xinhua has additional coverage.

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