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Ehud Olmert is facing a third investigation into criminal allegations.

Israel Attorney General Menachem Mazuz on Sunday instructed police investigators to open a probe into whether the prime minister, as trade and industry minister between 2003 and 2005, helped a former business partner gain from a state investment center and illicitly appointed cronies to government posts.

Olmert already is being investigated on suspicion of bid rigging in the 2005 privatization of an Israeli bank , as well as on allegations that a discount on a Jerusalem home he bought in 2004 constituted bribery.

The prime minister has denied wrongdoing in all of the cases. Olmert has accused some state officials of conducting a witch hunt against him.

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