Tuesday, February 1, 2011
Police: Sufficient proof to indict Omri, Gilad Sharon
Evidentiary basis has been established for the indictment of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s sons Omri and Gilad Sharon on suspicion of mediating bribery in the Cyril Kern and Martin Schlaff affair, police stated Tuesday.
Despite the uncovered evidence, the case was transferred to the State Prosecution without a recommendation to indict the two.
Police explained that the legal system cannot complete its questioning of foreign nationals and Israelis residing abroad that are implicated in the case, which makes a clear recommendation problematic.
According to the police, complex legal issues prevented the investigators from collecting evidence on violations more serious than bribery mediation. The State Prosecution will review the case and decide whether to press charges.
According to the allegations, after the State Comptroller ordered Ariel Sharon to return the debt he had accumulated during his 2001 primaries campaign, he received a $1.5 million loan from South African businessman Cyril Kern. In January 2002, Sharon’s sons received $3 million for providing a consultation on the establishment of a farm in South Africa.
Dozens of witnesses were questioned in the case; the investigators even travelled to South Africa to make a judicial inquiry into Kern’s affairs. It was only later that the Israel Anti Fraud Unit discovered the Kern was funneling the funds from businessman Martin Schlaff.
Following the discovery, the investigators tried to establish a basis for a bribery charge. It was then that Sharon suffered a stroke and could no longer be investigated. Furthermore, Schlaff, who was supposed to be questioned in Israel, refused to come to the State – not even to attend his father’s funeral. When the investigators travelled to Austria to question him, he did not show up, either. Lacking key testimonies, the investigators were left no one to question but the Sharon brothers.
The Anti Fraud Unit, which completed the inquiry in recent days, asserted that while there is an evidentiary basis against Omri and Gilad Sharon, important judicial evidence was missing to substantiate the suspicions.
Head of the Police Investigations Unit Major-General Yoav Segalovich said that he received the report on the inquiry and decided to approve it and transfer it to the prosecution. According to estimations, the State will have major difficulties in indicting the Sharon brothers.
The case was uncovered a few months before the 2003 elections, when the Haaretz newspaper exposed the funds Omri and Gilad Sharon received to cover their father’s campaign expenses. The case was leaked by former prosecutor Liora Glatt-Berkowitz.