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Casino Businessman's Ties to Israeli Leader Probed

26 April 2004

ISRAEL – As reported by the Jerusalem Post: "A police investigator charged on Sunday that Austrian businessman Martin Schlaff was closely connected to companies established by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's son, Gilad, and Sharon's close friend, Cyril Kern.

"Schlaff is part owner of the Jericho casino and tried to launch a floating casino sailing out of Eilat. He is known to have met Sharon in person on at least two occasions.

"Police began to investigate Sharon after he mysteriously paid back illegal campaign contributions totaling $1.5 million. At first, police believed the money to repay the loan came from Kern, a businessman and close personal friend. As the investigation continued, it emerged that Kern may have only been a front man for money that came from another source. Police are investigating whether Schlaff is that source and, if so, how much money he gave Sharon.

"…Yesterday, Supt. Rami Tamam of the National Police Fraud Squad asked the Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court for permission to study documents seized from the office of prominent tax lawyer Avi Alter. Gilad Sharon is Alter's client. So are casino companies owned by Schlaff. Police believe there is a link between Sharon's companies and those belonging to Schlaff…"

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