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Prosecutor alleges Israel PM accepted bribes from US businessman

[JURIST] Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert [official profile] personally received cash [Jerusalem Post report] from US businessman Morris Talansky while serving as a minister of industry, trade and labor, a state prosecutor said Monday in a hearing at the Supreme Court of Israel. Last week, police raided Olmert's offices [JURIST report] as part of the investigation into corruption allegations against Olmert. Talansky denied any wrongdoing in an interview on Israeli television, and he informed investigators Sunday that he would be leaving Israel for the US on May 26. Olmert's lawyers have filed a petition to overturn a lower court decision to hear Talansky's testimony before he leaves the country. Reuters has more. Ha'aretz has local coverage.

This is not the first time Olmert has been accused of involvement in questionable deals. In April 2007, Olmert was investigated for improperly favoring his supporters [JURIST report] in distributing business grants during his time as trade minister. In January 2007, the Israeli Ministry of Justice announced plans to launch an investigation [JURIST report] into allegations that he promoted the interests of two business associates during the 2005 state sale of Bank Leumi [corporate website]. Olmert has maintained that he is innocent throughout these scandals. On Sunday, law enforcement officials told Ha'aretz that the investigation into Olmert has revealed evidence that could lead to additional charges [Ha'aretz report].

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