The state witness in the Holyland trial on Tuesday explained the context of NIS 100,000 in bribes that he admitted to paying through intermediaries to former prime minister Ehud Olmert in 2003.

At the time Olmert was industry, trade and labor minister, and, according to S.D., he was still helpful in overcoming legal barriers to the Holyland project, even if not as instrumental as during his tenure as mayor.

The intermediary, according to S.D. – as the state witness is known due to a gag order – was Olmert’s former bureau chief Shula Zaken.

Zaken reportedly has not denied receiving the funds, but claimed during the police investigation that they were part of her friendship with S.D., and not bribes.

The Holyland trial involves massive allegations of fraud and bribery – in building a large residential complex on the grounds where the Holyland hotel formerly stood – against 16 defendants, including Olmert, former Jerusalem mayor Uri Lupolianski and other prominent public officials and businessmen.

S.D. also noted that during the time period of these particular bribes he met with Olmert once or twice a month when the latter was a minister.

Prior to that, when Olmert was mayor of Jerusalem, S.D. had met with him more frequently, but at this point meeting with Olmert associates such as Zaken and Uri Messer was sufficient.

S.D. also discussed providing bribes of NIS 50,000 to Messer during the same period, despite the fact that S.D.

revealed that he and his backers had initially been angry with Olmert when he switched from the position of Jerusalem mayor to that of minister. S.D. said Olmert should have hinted to them that he might be switching positions in the future, in which case they might have reduced the bribes he received since he was most valuable to them while still mayor.

Separately, S.D. testified about the beginning of the fraying of his relationships with some of the defendants in 2007. In one instance, Ziel Feldman, a new owner of Polar Investments, requested invoices from S.D. for his services, he said.

Polar Investments had been one of the Holyland investors and one of S.D.’s employers for his work as middle man with key politicians, also funding the bribes that S.D. used to pay the politicians prior to Feldman’s takeover, said S.D.

First, S.D. considered the request, which he thought was unusual. But further disagreements about the handling of the invoices made S.D. angry with Feldman.

If the previous owner, and one of the defendants in the Holyland case, Avigdor Kellner, had still been in that position, he would never have been asked for the documentation, said S.D.

S.D. was irate because additional documentation would merely create a paper trail to trace his involvement in the bribery and fraud.

The state witness testified that he called Kellner and told him that the new owners were acting with “chutzpah” and that he needed to “get them off his back.”

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