- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 26, 2009

JERUSALEM (AP) - Israeli police on Thursday said they had dropped a criminal investigation into a real estate deal by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, just days before he leaves office, citing lack of sufficient evidence.

Four other cases against Olmert are still pending.

In the real estate inquiry police investigated allegations that Olmert bought a home in an exclusive Jerusalem neighborhood at a steep discount in exchange for granting favors to the builder. The alleged deal occurred while Olmert was Jerusalem mayor, years before he became prime minister in 2006.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the case was closed on Thursday after an investigation showed no “concrete evidence of illegal acts in this case.”

Olmert paid $325,000 less than market value for the property, leading to suspicions of fraud and bribery.

A series of corruption investigations led Olmert to announce his resignation last September. Following national elections, he is set to step down next week.

Earlier this month Attorney General Meni Mazuz said he was considering putting Olmert on trial over a separate case alleging that he unlawfully accepted cash-stuffed envelopes from a Jewish-American businessman.

Police also wound up an investigation into suspicions that during his 2003-2006 term as trade and industry minister Olmert used his position to channel development grants to a company run by his attorney. Police called it a “deep conflict of interest” and recommended that the state prosecutor’s office bring charges.

In late November, Mazuz notified Olmert that he would indict him in a different case, where he allegedly double-billed Jewish groups for trips abroad, then pocketed the difference or financed trips for relatives

Olmert is also being investigated in connection with allegedly corrupt political appointments.

All the investigations predate his becoming prime minister in Jan. 2006, and he has denied wrongdoing in each case.

Allegations of corruption have swirled around Olmert throughout his three-decade political career, but he has never been convicted of a crime.

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