Sharon accused of illegal election funding

A former senior Israeli offical has accused Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of direct involvement in an alleged bid to illegally finance an election campaign.

    Sharon has been urged to resign over the affair

    David Spector, a former strategic adviser to Sharon's Likud party

    ,

    accused the premier of attempts to

    illegally finance his 1999 campaign for the Likud leadership.

    "Arik was involved in everything and dealt with everything in

    great detail," he told Israel's Channel 2 station on Monday, using Sharon's

    nickname. "If I wanted revenge, Sharon would not be prime minister

    today."

    The television station also played a tape recorded in September

    2000, in which the voices of Spector and Sharon are heard discussing

    the transfer of money to Sharon's headquarters.

    Resignation call

    In reaction, Labour MP Ofer Pines called on army radio for

    Sharon to resign immediately.

    "This is proof that Sharon is up to his ears in the Cyril Kern

    affair," he said. "The prime minister bought his rule with money and

    now it is clear that the version he told the state investigator was

    a lie and doesn't hold water."

    The scandal centres around a $1.5 million loan from South

    African businessman Cyril Kern that was allegedly used by Sharon to

    return irregular contributions to his campaign for the Likud

    leadership.

    "Arik (Ariel Sharon) was involved in everything and dealt with everything in

    great detail.

    If I wanted revenge, Sharon would not be prime minister

    today"

    David Spector, 
    Former Likud party offical

     

    Sharon was grilled by police for seven hours at the end of

    October over the Kern affair.

    Videotape 

    Spector's name was first connected to the scandal last week when

    Channel 2 broadcast a secretly-recorded videotape.

    The tape showed him

    meeting in September 2000 with Sharon's son, Omri, and the former

    Likud director Uri Shani.

    The three were sitting together listening to a

    proposal by Shani to use party funds to finance Sharon's election

    campaign.

    "I can issue Likud cheques today which no one can trace," Uri Shani

     

    said.

    The tape shows Omri listening without replying.

    Investigation

    The conversation appeared to directly contradict testimony given

    by both Omri Sharon and Shani to the state prosecutor who is

    investigating the alleged corruption.

    Members of the Sharon family have been questioned several times

    by Israeli police and the national fraud squad over alleged

    irregular contributions to the 1999 campaign.

    Omri, who is a Likud deputy, was questioned by police in

    October.

    SOURCE: AFP


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