(photo credit: Ronen Zvulun/Reuters)
The state witness in the Holyland corruption case is receiving a monthly living allowance of NIS 12,000 from the state, the Tel Aviv District Attorney confirmed on Tuesday.
The witness, whose identity is protected by a gag order, testified in the trial throughout July. The District Attorney’s Office said he is entitled to the living allowance under his agreement with the state, starting from the date the agreement was signed in February 2010 and for a maximum of eight years. This amounts to a total of NIS 1,152,000.
In return, the witness, known only as S.D., agreed to give testimony that led directly to the Holyland investigation and to indictments lodged last Thursday against 13 individuals, including former prime minister Ehud Olmert, in one of the largest corruption scandals in local history.
According to the indictment, the Holyland developers paid tens of millions of shekels to civil servants and elected officials to advance the project by substantially shortening planning times, smoothing over objections, rezoning land, providing tax breaks and increasing the permitted extent of construction.
Some of the charges also relate to alleged bribery regarding the rezoning of salt flats in Eilat and Atlit, and the promotion of real estate interests on farms north of Kiryat Gat.
By law, details of allowances paid to state witnesses are usually kept under wraps, and the district attorney said on Tuesday that the decision to disclose S.D.’s allowance had come after a protracted period of deliberation.
However, the district attorney said the Holyland state witness’s case was special, because S.D. is using part of his living expenses to pay off debts he has acquired, and this formed part of the decision to reveal details of the payments to the public.
Reports of the state’s payments to S.D. had previously appeared in the Hebrew press, but were unconfirmed.
The State Attorney’s Office had previously confirmed that S.D. – who has been afforded complete immunity – turned to police through his lawyers in the second half of 2009 and offered to reveal everything he knew about the Holyland project and the farm interests. He did so in order to commence civil lawsuits against others involved in the affairs.
Following the offer, Attorney- General Yehuda Weinstein, together with the head of the police’s Investigations and Intelligence Division, the deputy attorney-general and senior Tax Authority officials, conducted negotiations with S.D.’s legal team.
Initially, S.D. signed an agreement with the state after it checked the allegations and found “various external verifications to support them,” the State Attorney’s Office said.
Under the terms of the agreement, S.D. pledged to tell authorities everything he knew, hand over all documents in his possession and cooperate fully with police investigators and state prosecutors.
During the investigation, S.D. made more than 70 statements to the police and handed over a large quantity of documents.