Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson was questioned today by Israeli fraud squad detectives in connection with their fast moving probe of possibly illegal payments from an American businessman to Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert. Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz reports:
Fraud squad detectives on Tuesday questioned American real estate mogul Sheldon Adelson in connection to the new corruption investigation into Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
Adelson, 73, earned his fortune developing huge hotel, convention and gambling properties in Las Vegas and, recently, in China.
The billionaire was asked whether Olmert had requested he acquire for his hotels mini-bars marketed the key witness in the probe, American Jewish businessman Morris Talansky, from whom the prime minister is suspected of illicitly accepting large sums of cash.
Adelson is one of the owners of the free Israeli daily Israel Hayom paper and is considered a close associate of opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu.
Israeli media report that a second American businessman, Daniel Abrams, has also been questioned by Israeli fraud police as part of the same investigation. "Daniel Abrams is suspected of transferring money from New York financier Morris Talansky to Olmert," the Jerusalem Post reported. "Abrams, a broadcast executive and former news correspondent, is also allegedly involved in two other scandals involving the prime minister - the Bank Leumi affair and the case of Olmert's Jerusalem home purchase."
World leaders including President Bush are descending on Israel these days for events to mark the country's 60th anniversary, including a conference slated to feature Bush and Olmert hosted by Israeli president Shimon Peres.
(Photograph of Adelson via Ha'aretz).