Israel Probes Lowy, Olmert Bank Deal

Oho, what is this? Israel to probe Olmert’s dubious bank deals with Australian Lowy. Looks like it is not only land that they are stealing.

ISRAEL’S state prosecutor will open a criminal investigation against Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for allegedly intervening in the sale of a major bank in favour of Australian shopping centre magnate Frank Lowy.

According to Israeli media reports, the investigation is likely to begin formally upon Mr Olmert’s return from China, where he is on a state visit.

Mr Lowy declined to comment last night, but a statement released when the allegations were first aired last October said that he was approached to be part of a consortium bidding for the Israeli Government’s interest in Bank Leumi, the country’s second-largest bank.

“After considering the investment and conducting some preliminary due diligence it was decided not to proceed with the consortium or the tender process,” a spokesman for the Westfield boss said.

“The Lowy family did not then or now have any involvement at all with Bank Leumi.”

Reports that Mr Lowy had taken part in the tender but was unsuccessful were “categorically wrong”, he said.

The intervention allegedly took place when Mr Olmert was acting finance minister. He is alleged to have interfered in the tender process in favour of Mr Lowy and US businessman S.Daniel Abraham. Both are friends of Mr Olmert.

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