Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert is indicted for fraud and forgery

TEL AVIV — Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert was indicted on fraud charges last week arising from the 1988 elections when he was Likud Party treasurer.

Olmert, who was responsible for raising donations to finance Likud's election campaign, was charged with fraudulently issuing false invoices, breach of trust and deliberately giving State Comptroller Miriam Ben-Porat false statements.

According to the charges, Olmert, as Likud's treasurer, created a phantom ad agency called BMY and a shell nonprofit group, Nitzachon Le'Likud (Victory to Likud), to process illegal contributions from individuals and businesses.

Contributors received invoices saying that their donations were used to pay advertising and consulting fees. According to political financing laws, it is forbidden for parties to receive donations from organizations here or abroad.

Olmert is also accused of telling Ben-Porat that donations to the Likud amounted to around 250,000 shekels, when BMY in fact processed nearly 1 million shekels.

Following Ben-Porat's report to the Knesset on the Olmert case, the Likud received an election campaign budget of over 2 million shekels from the government.

Olmert therefore allegedly misled Ben-Porat, the Knesset and the Israeli public.

Tel Aviv's district attorney has listed some 100 prosecution witnesses who will be summoned to testify against Olmert.

Olmert will be tried in Tel Aviv District Court rather than in Jerusalem, to avoid any conflicts of interest or unpleasantness likely to arise due to his position in Jerusalem.

It is not yet known whether Olmert will suspend himself from the top job in Jerusalem until the end of indictment proceedings, but sources said this is doubtful.

The indictment came down after Israel's High Court rejected an appeal by Olmert.

Others involved in the case were convicted and sentenced recently.