Olmert: Talansky’s testimony is nothing but fantasy

On 7th day in the witness box, ex-PM denies he took cash bribes from US philanthropist, responding to allegations he hid the money.

By RON FRIEDMAN
June 16, 2011 18:42
2 minute read.
Former prime minister Ehud Olmert.

Ehud Olmert 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Former prime minister Ehud Olmert, during his seventh day in the witness box on Thursday, denied ever demanding cash bribes from American philanthropist Moshe Talansky.

Olmert also said that Talansky’s testimony that he had lent Olmert tens of thousands of dollars was nothing but a made up fantasy and figments of his imagination.

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“This whole story about loans is a fantasy for which I have no explanation. I don’t have a shred of doubt that nothing of the sort happened,” Olmert said.

Olmert is accused of having received hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash from Talansky in what’s been dubbed “the envelopes affair.”

According to the indictment, Talansky gave Olmert the money as a personal loan, money that Olmert allegedly stashed away unreported to the tax authority.

Olmert said he received money from Talansky in the form of campaign donations, travel expense returns and legal aid assistance, but rejected the state’s claim that the money was given as a bribe.

“Talansky made sure that it was known that if you want access to Olmert, you have to go through him. I don’t know if he derived any benefit from that, but it made him more important,” Olmert said.

Responding to his lawyers’ questions regarding a specific $25,000 loan from Talansky which Olmert was accused of hiding, the former prime minister said, “This never happened.

This is a totally baseless claim.” He added, “Talansky is saying things that are makebelieve, they are nonsense.”

He also denied Talansky’s testimony that Olmert had demanded that he transfer money to him only in cash form, pointing to several occasions in which the money was transferred by check or a bank transfer. He hinted that Talansky made this accusation because he was pressured to do so by the investigators, at which point the judges asked him to refrain from making claims about the police.

Olmert told of how he met Talansky and got to know him as an effective fundraiser when he was raising money for his Jerusalem mayoral campaign.

But Olmert denied that Talansky was one of his major contributors.

Olmert described his relationship with Talansky, saying, “We had a personal relationship. I was grateful to him. He has charm, he is communicative, a social man, he knows how to make contacts, how to talk, how to show appreciation.

There was a certain chemistry.”

On Thursday morning, Olmert wrapped his testimony on the Rishon Tours affair, in which he was accused of double billing philanthropic organizations for his travel expenses and using the excess funds to sponsor flight tickets for his family and upgrades for himself.

After six days – over the last three weeks – of delivering testimony on the matter, in which he adamantly denied having any knowledge of the way his flights were paid for by his office staff, Olmert concluded by stating that though he wasn’t blaming his travel coordinator Rachel Rizby Raz for any improprieties, he admitted that mistakes had been made which in retrospect he shouldn’t have allowed.


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