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Published:July 11th, 2008 10:25 EST
Suspicion intensifies around Ehud Olmert

Suspicion intensifies around Ehud Olmert

By SOP newswire

Israeli police questioning Prime Minister Ehud Olmert over allegations of corruption say they now suspect him of fraud.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert In a joint statement with the Justice Ministry, Israeli police said Friday that they are investigating whether Mr. Olmert made multiple, excessive expense claims for trips abroad while he was Jerusalem mayor and trade and industry minister.

The statement said Mr. Olmert is suspected of enriching himself by charging various entities, including the state, for the same travel expenses. Police say some of the money was allegedly deposited into one of Mr. Olmert`s private accounts.

Mr. Olmert was mayor of Jerusalem for 10 years until 2003. He later served as trade minister before becoming prime minister in 2006.

Earlier Friday, Israeli police questioned Mr. Olmert for a third time about allegations he unlawfully accepted cash from a U.S. businessman, Morris Talansky, before becoming prime minister.

Mr. Olmert says the payments were legal campaign contributions. He denies wrongdoing, but has said he will resign if indicted.

Israel`s defense minister and Labor Party leader, Ehud Barak, has demanded the ruling Kadima Party pick a new leader because of the corruption investigation. The Labor Party is Mr. Olmert`s main coalition partner.

The ruling party approved a motion Thursday to hold an election by late September.