Sharon’s son guilty in funds scandal

The son of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has pleaded guilty in an Israeli campaign funds scandal that could pose a challenge to the Israeli leader before expected early elections.

Omri Sharon has been charged with fraud and perjury
Omri Sharon has been charged with fraud and perjury

Omri Sharon, a Likud Party lawmaker and key adviser to his father, had previously said he would argue in his defence.

He was accused on Tuesday of fraud, breach of trust and perjury – charges carrying a maximum sentence of seven years in prison.

Although no charges were brought against the prime minister over the case, the scandal has embarrassed him at a time when he faces tough political battles.

Allegations that shell companies were set up to funnel foreign donations to Ariel Sharon’s successful 1999 race for the right-wing Likud party leadership fuelled political opposition to the prime minister.

Illegal funding

Foreign funding of political campaigns is illegal in Israel.

The scandal has embarrassed Sharon at a fragile political time

The scandal has embarrassed 
Sharon at a fragile political time

Sharon had denied any wrongdoing in the funding case, saying his two sons alone handled financing for his 1999 primary campaign.

Attorney-General Menachem Mazuz decided in February against indicting the prime minister, citing lack of evidence after a three-year investigation.

Related charges against two of Sharon’s former senior advisers were dropped.
 
Sharon is expected to face early elections next year as a surprise leadership change in the Labour party, a key partner, has brought his ruling coalition to the verge of collapse.

Elections are due in November 2006.

Source: Reuters

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