An Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, today accused Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin's wife, Leah, of illegally holding an account in a bank in Washington.
It is a violation of currency regulations for an Israeli citizen to hold a foreign bank account without Finance Ministry approval.
Mrs. Rabin confirmed through a spokesman that she had left about $2,000 in an account at the Dupont Circle branch of the National Bank of Washington in 1973 when she returned to Israel after five years in Washington during her husband's tour there as ambassador. She said the money was left to settle any outstanding accounts, according to the prime minister's office.
[Officials of the bank, asked through a secretary for comment, did not return a reporter's call.]
[Mrs. Rabin said later today that she had closed the account and was transferring the money to her account in Israel, Associated Press reported.]
"Maybe I wasn't sufficiently aware of the fact that I should have closed the account shortly after I returned home," Mrs. Rabin was quoted as saying in the Israeli press.
Even though the amount involved is not large, Mrs. Rabin's Washington bank account seems certain to become another problem for the politically ailing premier in an election year.
Rabin's ruling Labor Party has been racked with scandals and Rabin's personal choice for governor of the Bank of Israel is serving a five-year prison sentence for bribery and fraud. Housing Minister Abraham Ofer committed suicide earlier this year after having been accused by press accounts of involvement in the affair.
Haaretz's Washington correspondent reported that the account was in Leah Rabin's name but that all statements and documents concerning the account were being sent to "friends in New York."
The paper said Mrs. Rabin visited the bank during the prime minister's trip to the United States last week.