ori messer low quality 311.
(photo credit: Channel 10 )
Former prime minister Ehud Olmert’s one-time attorney and close friend Uri
Messer testified in the Talansky affair trial at the Jerusalem District Court on
Tuesday, saying he had handled envelopes of money for Olmert in the
In the Talansky case, the prosecution lawyers claim that Messer
served as a private banker for Olmert, who allegedly received cash contributions
from New York businessman Morris Talansky – and perhaps from others – and
stashed them in his safe without declaring them to the tax
Talansky: Olmert told me to transfer $30,000 to his
Olmert has claimed throughout the trial that the money was
received in accordance with the law, to fund election campaigns in which he
participated as mayor of Jerusalem and later as a minister in the Likud and
Messer said that Olmert’s bureau chief Shula Zaken would
give him envelopes a few times a year.
“You call it a secret stash, I
call it saving money in trust,” he said. He added that at times the sums he had
handled amounted to between NIS 100,000 and NIS 300,000.
that Zaken would call him from time to time to set up a meeting and would hand
the money to him either in Olmert’s office or home, or in Messer’s own office.
He said that any time a deposit or withdrawal was made, Zaken would make a note
of it in his presence.
In 2004, he said, he had transferred the money
from his office safe to the bank, and in 2006 handed it all back to
Messer added that he had given the money back because he didn’t
want to be involved in the media storm surrounding the affair, not because he
believed he was doing something wrong.
He told the court that the
envelopes, for the most part, contained thousands and tens of thousands of
“At first I didn’t know the source of the envelopes, but when I
met Talansky, I put two and two together,” Messer said.
He added that he
and Olmert had talked about the money, but not about amounts. He said that he
had never charged fees for his actions and had never been asked by the bank to
disclose the existence of the funds, nor was he required to by law.
did it because Olmert was a client and a friend of mine. This is neither the
first nor the last deed I did without compensation,” he said.
the hearing, Olmert’s communications adviser Amir Dan said that the testimony
proved there was no wrongdoing.
“Today it was proven without a doubt that
there was no secret cashbox as has been claimed, but legal funds held in trust
as is the custom with any lawyer,” he said.