fraud police question sharon

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    Fraud police question Sharon over $1m loan

    Chris McGreal in Jerusalem
    Friday October 31, 2003
    The Guardian

    Fraud detectives questioned Ariel Sharon for seven hours yesterday in separate investigations of bribery and money laundering.
    It is the first time prime minister Sharon has been interrogated under caution about a $1m loan from a close friend to one of the his sons, which was used to repay illegal campaign contributions.

    The second investigation concerns the circumstances in which a businessman hired another of Mr Sharon's sons to help win Greek government approval for construction of a tourist resort.

    The police are investigating whether the businessman bribed Mr Sharon, who was foreign minister at the time, to influence the decision.

    He has denied knowledge of the transfer of $1m by Cyril Kern, a British businessman living in South Africa, to his son, Gilad.

    Mr Sharon's difficulty will be in persuading the police that not only did he not know that one of his closest friends had made a "loan" to one of his sons, but that he never asked how the illegal campaign funds were repaid, as he was required by law.

    Detectives say an obstacle to their investigations has been the refusal of the authorities in Austria, where the money deposited into the Sharons' account originated, to let them take depositions there.

    Mr Sharon's critics have accused him of hiding behind Gilad.

    Officers are expected to question him further today.

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