(Photo: REUTERS / Ronen Zvulun)
Vehicles drive past the Holyland towers apartment complex in Jerusalem January 5, 2012. Former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert, already on trial over corruption accusations, was indicted on Thursday on new bribery charges over the construction of the hulking luxury apartment complex that dominates a Jerusalem hilltop.
Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who resigned in 2008 amid corruption charges, was indicted Thursday on new charges of allegedly seeking hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes in connection with three controversial real estate projects.
Olmert, who is on trial for three unrelated counts of fraud and breach of trust from his tenure as prime minister, has denied all wrongdoing, the New York Times reported.
In the latest and most serious indictment, Olmert is accused of accepting bribes in order to clear the way for the controversial Holyland housing project, a massive luxury residential complex, in southwestern Jerusalem. The money was in exchange for permission to allow the project to go up swiftly and to grow to more than 12 times the height granted by the original permits.
The indictment names 13 figure and three companies; that includes former Jerusalem mayor Uri Lupiansky and Danny Danker, a former chairman of one of Israel's major banks, Bank Hapoalim. They are all charged with bribery, money-laundering and tax fraud.
Olmert is already standing trail on a number of other corruption charges that allegedly took place between 2002 and 2006, while he served as mayor of Jerusalem. At that time, he was also the government minister with oversight over the Israel Lands Authority. He has denied those charges, too. Still, the accusations forced him to resign after a three-year term as prime minister in 2009.
The indictments are tied to allegations that Olmert accepted envelopes of money from an American businessman and for double-billing Jewish groups for trips abroad.
At the opening of his trial on Sept. 25, 2009, Olmert said, "for the last three years I have been subject to an almost inhumane system of smearing and investigations and have naturally paid a heavy price for this period. Now is the time for facts and only facts. I have come here as an innocent man and I believe I'll come out of here an innocent man."
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