Background: Long, complex, unusual

Indictment accuses Olmert of four interrelated sets of offenses.

February 25, 2010 22:29
2 minute read.
good olmert pic 224 ap

good olmert pic 224 ap. (photo credit: AP)


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The indictment against former prime minister Ehud Olmert is exceptionally long and complex, comprising a total of 49 pages of text and an appendix of 11 pages, listing the trips he booked through Rishontours and allegedly double- or triple-billed.

The structure of the indictment is also unusual. It includes four separate charges. The first charge involves the Rishontours affair and includes in different degrees of severity Olmert and his close aide, Shula Zaken.

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The second combines two ostensibly separate affairs – the Talansky affair and the Investment Center affair. Zaken, is not charged with any wrong-doing in the Investment Center affair.

The third charge, which applies to Olmert only, has to do with two matters that were barely discussed in the years leading up to the indictment. The first concerns a loan of $100,000 that Olmert received from US businessman Joe Almalich. The second has to do with Olmert’s vastly inaccurate assessment of his pen collection. In both these cases, he is accused of submitting false records of his financial assets to the State Comptroller.

The fourth charge applies only to Zaken and has to do with charges that she eavesdropped on Olmert’s phone conversations.

According to the Justice Ministry, these affairs are all linked to one another and therefore create a cohesive unity.

The first investigation conducted by the state prosecution involved the relations between Olmert and his close friend Uri Messer in the Investment Center affair. In addition to an investigative report in one of the daily newspapers, the police and the attorney-general received complaints by potential investors who charged that Olmert showed favoritism towards Messer by accepting his clients’ grant requests.

In questioning Messer regarding the Investment Center affair, the police apparently learned that he was safeguarding large sums of cash for Olmert, which had been given to him by Zaken.

In looking into this new fact, investigators discovered Zaken’s so-called secret diary in which she listed all the money transferred from Talansky to Olmert, the money transferred by Olmert via Zaken to Messer and the transfers made by Messer back to Olmert at the minister’s request.

This was how the Talansky affair began.

Furthermore, during the investigation into the financial ties between Olmert and Talansky, police questioned Olmert about the funding or upgrading of some of his trips with money collected by Talansky. Olmert referred the investigators to Rishontours, his travel agent. A look at Rishontours files revealed the alleged double- and triple-billing technique and the private account in Olmert’s name used to register the extra money he received, which he allegedly used to finance his family’s private trips.

Another common theme in all three cases is that in each one, Olmert was charged with fraud and breach of faith. Although this charge is less severe than that of accepting a bribe, it is considered a criminal offense because it is more severe than involvement in a conflict of interest. In order to prove fraud and breach of faith, the prosecutor must demonstrate that there is an extra degree of severity in the defendant’s conduct.

Although the incidents involved in the third charge against Olmert are distinctly separate from the first two, they have to do with the defendant’s allegedly deliberate attempt to conceal assets from the State Comptroller. The same charge was made against Olmert in the Talansky affair. In fact, in all three affairs for which Olmert is standing trial, he is accused of receiving something by deceit.

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