Israeli Attorney General Menachem Mazuz on Sunday ordered the police to start a preliminary investigation into Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's alleged criminal involvement in Bank Leumi sale, local newspaper Ha'aretz reported.
If a sufficient amount of evidence is found, an official criminal investigation could be opened against the prime minister, said the report.
Earlier this week, the State Comptroller's Office published allegations that the Olmert committed bribery offenses in the course of a sale of a majority share in the Bank Leumi, one of Israel's major banks.
State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss, who began looking into the allegation ten months ago, recommended that Mazuz examine the evidence and consider a criminal probe.
Following consultations with state prosecutors, Mazuz instructed police Sunday to carry out a series of operations first to examine the evidence and broaden the factual basis of the case before deciding whether to open a criminal investigation, said Ha' aretz.
Israel's Justice Ministry emphasized that the current examination of Olmert at this point is a process of preliminary examinations and not a criminal investigation.
According to Ha'aretz, Olmert is suspected of interfering with the tender for the controlling interest in the Bank Leumi to benefit businessman Frank Lowy, a close personal associate.
The lead witness against Olmert in the case is Finance Ministry Accountant General Yaron Zlika.
Authorities in the State Comptroller's Office was cited as saying that there was enough evidence in Zlika's testimony to criminally investigate Olmert for all allegations against him.
Olmert, through his office, has denied any wrongdoing in the sale of Bank Leumi.