Sharon's scandals

The following offers some background on the scandals surrounding Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

    Will 'the Bulldozer' be forced to step down?

    The Supreme Court on Monday ordered his son Gilad to hand over documents that prosecutors deem critical to bringing two corruption inquiries against Sharon to trial.

    Israel's chief prosecutor on Sunday recommended indicting Sharon in one inquiry, involving what she alleges were bribes conveyed to Sharon when he was foreign minister by a businessman for help in developing a Greek island resort.

    Money for votes    

    In December 2002 Israeli fraud police began investigating allegations that members of Likud's central committee demanded money for votes in a primary ballot to select members for parliament before the January 2003 general election.

    Sharon dismissed Naomi Blumenthal, a deputy cabinet minister, for involvement in the scandal. 
     
    'Sharongate'

    In January 2003, Israeli police began examining allegations of funding irregularities in Sharon's 1999 campaign for leadership of the right-wing Likud party involving the then-foreign minister and his two sons, Gilad and Omri.

    Sharon was elected on a platform
    vowing to crush the Intifada

    Police believe the two used a $1.5 million loan from a South African businessman as collateral to repay alleged illicit contributions to Sharon's campaign. Foreign funding of political campaigns is illegal in Israel.

    Sharon has denied the allegations and says his sons alone handled the primary funds.
     
    Greek Island

    On 21 January 2004 prosecutors charged David Appel, a prominent property developer and Likud stalwart, with trying to bribe Sharon when he was foreign minister in the late 1990s. Appel says he is innocent.

    Prosecutors said Appel hired Gilad Sharon in 1999 as a consultant for the purchase of the Greek resort island and paid him large sums intended to persuade his father to help him promote the deal. It never went through.

    Appel was charged with paying more than $2.6 million in an attempt to bribe Sharon and Vice Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, then mayor of Jerusalem, to help him push through the island deal and a bid on government-controlled land in central Israel.
     
    The indictment did not cite any evidence Sharon knowingly accepted money for political favours. Justice Ministry sources said prosecutors were considering whether to charge Sharon, who has denied any wrongdoing.
     
    Prisoner swap   

    Israel's Maariv newspaper reported this month that Sharon once had a business relationship with the father-in-law of Elhanan Tannenbaum, an Israeli businessman freed by Lebanon resistance group Hizb Allah on 29 January in exchange for about 400 Arab detainees and hostages.

    The report suggested those links, dating to the 1970s, influenced Sharon's decision to push for the swap.

    Tannenbaum is under investigation for possible illegal business dealings, including narcotics, at the time he was abducted in 2000.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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