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Israel probing kickback claims against ambassador to Hungary

The international crimes department of the Israel Police is investigating Israel’s ambassador to Hungary, David Admon, based on a series of probes carried out by Haaretz and the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper.

The suspicions against Admon focus on two issues: The negotiations for the purchase of the former Jewish hospital in Budapest, for which his son received a commission, and a private party held for a friend at the ambassador’s residence in Budapest. Admon and his son have denied all published details on the affair. Police spokeswoman Michal Haim confirmed an investigation had been launched against Admon on suspicion he took kickbacks.

According to Yedioth, Admon allegedly used his position to carry out private business ventures in Hungary and used his connections to open doors for his son and Israeli businesspeople in exchange for money. A Foreign Ministry official confirmed Admon was under police investigation but would not give details.

Israeli diplomats have caused the country much embarrassment in recent years. In March, the Foreign Ministry recalled the ambassador to El Salvador, Tzuriel Refael, after he was found in the back yard of his residence naked, drunk, bound and gagged. In 2006, the ambassador to Australia, Naftali Tamir, was dismissed after he told Haaretz that Israel and Australia were white sisters amid “the yellow race” of Asia. A year earlier, Israel canceled the appointment of a diplomat to Australia after it was discovered that he published pictures of nude Brazilian women on the Internet while on a mission in Brazil.

Admon is also suspected of involvement during his tenure as envoy of promoting business deals for a large number of Israelis in Hungary. One of the claims against him is that he approached the Budapest mayor in the name of a Jerusalem family that wanted to extend the gambling permit for a casino it owned in the city. In the city of Pomáz, Admon allegedly helped an Israeli contractor win the tender for a large real estate project. Admon is also said to have helped Israeli contractors win tenders win public real estate projects. The 70-year-old Admon was appointed in 2004 by then-foreign minister Silvan Shalom, in the context of the quota of personal and political appointments the minister was allowed to make.

Admon, a former publicist, was appointed at a relatively old age, and without an academic background. He also received the appointment despite the fact that he had been involved in a number of failed business ventures, and had been sued over debts he owed to businesses and as well as in taxes. (