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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 January 2007, 16:42 GMT
Olmert aide in corruption inquiry
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
Ehud Olmert is not directly involved in the latest corruption scandal
A senior official in the office of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has been placed under house arrest as part of an alleged corruption scandal.

Shula Zaken, Mr Olmert's personal secretary, is being investigated by police over alleged bribe taking.

She has not been charged. More than 15 others, including senior officials, are being investigated as part of the same case. They all deny any wrongdoing.

Police say that there is no direct connection in this case to Mr Olmert.

Scandals of some kind are hanging over several senior Israeli politicians.

Tax breaks

Police have for several months been investigating allegations that top government officials had either received or given bribes to win tax breaks for companies, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.

A Tel Aviv magistrate's court banned Ms Zaken from entering the prime minister's office or leaving the country during the next two weeks.

Ms Zaken has been one of Mr Olmert's close aides for 30 years.

Other figures allegedly involved in the scandal are Jacky Matza, the head of Israeli Tax Authority, and his immediate predecessor in the job, Eitan Rub.

Israel Army Radio says that Finance Minister Avraham Hirchson is considering appointing a temporary replacement for Mr Matza for the duration of the investigation.

Political scandals

President Moshe Katsav may be charged over allegations of rape, sexual harassment and wire-tapping.

Mr Olmert has been the subject a number of corruption investigations over property deals and appointments. Ha has not been charged in relation to any of these.

Two allies of Mr Olmert are also on trial: former Justice Minister Haim Ramon is charged with sexual misconduct; while Tzahi Hanegbi is charged with making illegal appointments as environment minister.

All deny any wrongdoing.

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