Deutsche Presse Agentur
July 14, 2008 - 1:46pm

JERUSALEM - Investigators in the corruption case against Israeli Premier Ehud Olmert\'s have turned their attention to his family amid allegations that they might have taken private trips abroad paid for with public funds, Israeli media reported on Sunday.

Israeli police were considering summoning his four adult children and his wife Alisa over the allegations that Olmert financed their trips by receiving duplicate travel expenses from different public bodies.

Olmert\'s children, in a statement said "we want to make it unequivocally clear that we were specifically told that the plane tickets given to us were a gift from our father and were privately financed by him," the online Ynet news website reported.

Israeli police on Friday announced serious new suspicions of corruption against Olmert, saying that for years he allegedly submitted travel expenses for the same trip abroad more than once, pocketing the "significant" surplus.

The premier is suspected of submitting receipts for flights around the world to various public bodies, including the state, as if they each "were the only one financing the flight described in the receipt," according to the Justice Ministry and police.

He allegedly put the extra money in a special bank account on his name and used it for private trips abroad made by his family and himself, it added.

Olmert, 62, allegedly did so while travelling abroad as mayor of Jerusalem and as trade and industry minister over the past years.

The receipts were sent to the various bodies by Olmert\'s travel agent, which also managed his special bank account, the statement said.

The premier\'s spokesman, Mark Regev, has denied the allegations. Rachel Risby-Raz, the travel coordinator for the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labour during Olmert\'s term defended Olmert as "neither a thief nor a swindler," Ynet reported.


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