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Israels kingmaker corrupt to bone

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Police: Israel’s kingmaker corrupt to bone

Avigdor Lieberman is accused of money laundering.
Israeli officials say they have gathered sufficient evidence to charge hawkish politician Avigdor Lieberman with money laundering.

"The police source said there was no doubt about money laundering," Dep.-Cmdr. (ret.) Boaz Guttman, a former National Fraud Unit investigator quoted a senior police source as saying The Jerusalem Post, reported. "But he refused to talk about bribery."

Lieberman, the leader of Yisrael Beiteinu party, is under investigation over using Cypriot bank accounts for money laundering. He is also suspected of involvement in fraud and bribery.


Guttman, however, said there would be a long way before of the Israeli politician could be indicted, because prosecutors would have to overcome a series of hurdles.

Officials fear that the veteran politician who is known for his hard line stances might hinder the proceedings to buy time. Prosecutors must also ask a Knesset committee to strip Lieberman from his parliamentary immunity.

"The hearing will be drawn out – Lieberman could complete half a term in government by the time it's over," Guttman said.

The former official added Knesset might also refuse to strip Lieberman from his immunity on the basis that it could endanger the stability of the future government.

"Knesset members could try to save a government from collapsing by upholding Lieberman's parliamentary immunity. If prosecutors decide to indict, they must receive approval from a Knesset committee to proceed," Guttman said. "This indictment won't happen tomorrow."

Guttman who interrogated Lieberman in 1997 over a forgery case believes that he is a skillful and experienced in misleading police.

"Lieberman does not hide behind his right to remain silent. He won't confess, either. He will give full answers and send police abroad looking for evidence," Guttman said. "He does not stutter, and he is not like Olmert, saying he doesn't remember this or that. He has all the facts in his head, and he does not refer to documents when answering questions."

Liberman is latest Israeli official to be accused with financial corruption charges, following in the footsteps of outgoing Premier Ehud Olmert.

Money laundering is rampant in Israel, the extent of such cases prompted the Justice Ministry to establish The Israel Money Laundering Prohibition Authority (IMPA) in 2002 an entity tasked with routing money laundering.

In 2005, however, IMPA was changed to Israel Money Laundering and Terror Financing Prohibition Authority.

Lieberman's party finished third in the recent general elections in Israel, therefore, his support might be crucial for any politician who is tasked by Israeli President Shimon Peres to form the government.