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Israel prime minister faces new criminal probe

[JURIST] Israeli Attorney General Menahem Mazuz [official profile] Sunday ordered a new criminal investigation into the activities of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert [official website] while he was serving as the country's trade minister from 2003-2006. According to a justice ministry statement obtained by AFP, Olmert will face a police investigation over "political appointments and assisting political cronies in different public bodies during his office as trade and industry minister." The investigation will also consider whether Olmert abused his authority when assisting a private company represented by a lawyer who was also his close associate.

This is not the first time Olmert has been investigated for questionable deals [JURIST news archive]. A number of scandals have emerged surrounding the Israeli prime minister in recent years, including a request by the state comptroller in April 2007 recommending an investigation into allegations that Olmert improperly favored his supporters in distributing business grants when he was trade minister. Olmert was questioned twice last week by police on suspicion of rigging the state sale of Israel's second-largest bank, Bank Leumi [corporate website], in favor of two associates while serving as finance minister. AFP has more.

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