Barak. Should have approached committee
Photo: AP
Micha Lindenstrauss
Photo: Gil Yohanan

State Comptroller: Barak violated public norms

Micha Lindenstrauss fiercely criticizes defense minister for handing over his company shares to his daughters before assuming minister's position

Defense Minister Ehud Barak did not follow the rules by handing over control of his company to his three daughters, the State Comptroller said Tuesday.


In a special opinion published along with the annual State Comptroller's Report, Micha Lindenstrauss stated: "Several days before he was appointed minister, Barak failed to act in accordance with rules and their purpose. These actions do not meet the public norms one expects of a minister or a ministerial candidate."


The Asher Committee ruled in 1977 that a minister must disengage himself from his civil activities before assuming the public post and create a buffer between himself and his financial affairs.


Minister Barak was elected Labor chairman in June 2007. Several days later he assumed the position of defense minister. Three days before he was sworn in, Barak divided his shares in "Ehud Barak Ltd." and another company equally between his three daughters.

Barak after being elected Labor chairman (Photo: Niv Kalderon)


The State Comptroller said that the companies' line of operation does not fall within Barak's daughters' field of occupation, and that they did not play any role within the companies prior to receiving the shares.


Instead of handing over the shares Barak should have approached the Permits Committee to decide how to settle his business affairs - prior to his appointment.


The opinion suggests that since Barak was appointed minister, "Ehud Barak Ltd." earned more than NIS 4.5 million, not counting tax and expenses.


The comptroller stated that the fact that the company holds shares in subsidiary companies creates further connections which may point to a conflict of interests. There was no full disclosure, Lindernstrauss claimed.


'No conflict of interests'

The opinion will be handed over for the attorney general's consideration. Lindenstrauss did not state whether any action against Barak should be pursued.


The defense minister's bureau said in response: "None of the clients of the said companies have or had any business relations with the Defense Ministry and therefore there was never any fear of conflict of interests.


"Barak handed over his shares while he was a candidate for the role of defense minister. Minister Barak echoes the comptroller's assertion that the rules must be amended to apply for ministerial candidates."


It was further stated: "The defense minister respects the State Comptroller's Report and has already began implementing his recommendations."


Opposition calls for probe

The opposition called on Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein to review the report and check whether there is room to open a criminal investigation against Barak.


"Any politician must be judged based not on what is criminal or not, but in accordance with public norms. The time has come that things done behind closed doors came into light and made available for the public," Opposition Chairwoman Tzipi Livni said.


"The public looks to the people entrusted with their lives and safety and no doubt judges its leadership based on this," she added.


Fellow Kadima member MK Yoel Hasson, chairman of the State Control Committee, echoed Livni's sentiment. "This is one of the harshest reports ever to be issued against a Israeli minister," he said.



פרסום ראשון: 05.17.11, 18:09
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