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Avigdor Lieberman To Resign If Charged

08/ 3/09 09:24 AM ET   AP

Mideast Israel F

JERUSALEM — Israel's ultranationalist foreign minister promised Monday to step down if he is charged after police recommended that he be indicted for a string of alleged corruption offenses.

Police say they have enough evidence to charge Avigdor Lieberman with accepting bribes, fraud, money laundering and other offenses. The country's attorney general must now decide whether to indict him, and that could take months.

Speaking at a press conference he called to respond to the police recommendation, which was announced Sunday, Lieberman said he did nothing wrong.

"If I had to do it again I would do precisely the same thing," he said.

Lieberman said he doubted he would be charged, but if he is, "There is no doubt that I will step down at that moment."

The police investigation centered on millions of dollars that allegedly reached Lieberman through fictitious companies he set up. Police say the investigation began in 2006 and covered events as far back as 2000.

Police say Lieberman faces a combined maximum sentence of 31 years in prison.

He has a previous conviction for assaulting a minor in 1999, when he beat one of three boys his 12-year-old-son said had hit him. Lieberman was fined for that offense and ordered to pay compensation to the minor.

Lieberman became foreign minister in March after his Yisrael Beitenu Party took third place in a general election. The party has drawn criticism for positions widely seen as discriminatory toward Israel's Arab minority.

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Filed by Hanna Ingber Win  |