Coastal Post Online

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February, 2003

American Connection To Israeli Corruption Scandal
By Jim Scanlon

A major corruption scandal involving illegal funding of the Likud party and a complex cover up by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his sons has placed in doubt the Prime Minister's substantial election lead. Public approval of the Likud party had been underlined by an investigation into payoffs by criminal interests to obtain preference in the assignment of parliamentary seats, and a new scandal involving the Prime Minister, his family and a network of his friends, may further weakening his party in the January 28th election.

Recently Prime Minister Sharon was told that a $1.5 million campaign contribution he received from a US firm, Annex Research, was illegal and he had to return just under $1 million. There was no explanation of how this clearly criminal act was committed, discovered or reported.

To repay the money the Prime Minister's sons borrowed $1.5 million from an Israeli bank using his ranch in the Negev Desert as collateral. The bank withdrew the loan in a matter of days when it discovered that Sharon's ranch belonged to the state and was leased to the Prime Minister. It would appear from press reports that the loan application involved criminal fraud in addition to bad judgment.

Sharon and his sons then turned to a businessman identified as "South African," (actually a British Citizen), an old friend who had been involved in the 1948 Arab Israeli War, to cover the canceled loan. The businessman said he made the loan to help an old friend and claimed he had no business projects in Israel(that might imply a payoff). Ha’aretz reported however that he had at least two projects pending, one, involving the sale of diamonds from West Africa where the sale of contraband gems finances military insurgencies and also is used in money laundering.

The detailed coverage by Ha’aretz contrasts with that of, to name just one American Media outlet, the New York Times, which broadly reported the incident and provided no information on the American Connection, Annex Research, the source of the original payment which leaves one wondering why would an American corporation make such a large payment to the Likud party?

The CEO of Annex, an information technology corporation, is well known in business circles as a critic of business practices, especially IBM. He is of Serbian descent and is on record severely criticizing President Clinton for transporting and funding Islamic militants (Al Qaeda) in fighting Serbs in the former Yugoslavia.

This incident illustrates how open, free and thorough the Israeli press can be, the tendency of the American media to filter information from Israel/Palestine, the corrupting effects of corporate money and the political, social and economic entanglement of the US and Israel.

 

 

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