Olmert arriving at trial 311.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
The state's main witness on Monday said that he gave former prime minister Ehud Olmert NIS 1.5 million, presents and cigars for his help advancing the Holyland project and overcoming legal and political obstacles which would have limited the project's profitability.
The witness, known officially only as S.D. due to a gag order on publishing his name, was continuing to testify on Monday in the second day of the Holyland trial, a massive corruption case involving allegations of fraud and bribery to advance a large construction project in Jerusalem against Olmert, former Jerusalem mayor Uri Lupolianski, former Bank Hapoalim CEO Dan Dankner and 13 other defendants.
S.D. said that whenever he met with Olmert they gave each other hugs and kisses, and that Olmert's door was always opened to him, although he could not describe Olmert as a close friend.
The bribes were allegedly given to Olmert during the years in which he was mayor of Jerusalem. S.D. said that the bribes included paying off Olmert's debts relating to elections in 1993 and 1999, as well as Olmert's primary election campaign in the Likud against former prime minister Ariel Sharon in 1999.
S.D. said that he first met Olmert personally around 1993-1994.
Regarding Olmert's former bureau chief Shula Zaken, S.D. said that Olmert introduced them at their first meeting. S.D. said that Olmert referred to Zaken as his "right hand."
S.D. added that Olmert told him that if he needed anything from Olmert he could turn to Zaken. According to S.D., Olmert told him that speaking and getting approval from Zaken was like speaking directly and getting approval from Olmert.
The state witness stated that he saw this confirmed in practice as anytime that Zaken intervened on his behalf with local Jerusalem officials who had power over issues related to getting proposals approved that were against stated municipal policies and laws, "no one dared" cross her and the Holyland project was allowed to move forward.
S.D. said that Zaken had told him that Olmert's electoral debts included personal debts.
S.D. said that Olmert knew that he was receiving unlawful funds from Cherny, through S.D., and that Olmert had admitted and thanked S.D. several times. In one instance, S.D. testified that Zaken asked Olmert if he knew about the funds he was receiving from S.D.
According to S.D., Olmert turned to S.D. in reply and said "I thank you for everything you are doing."
S.D. also testified for the first time in detail about his relationship with Jerusalem entrepreneur Meir Rabin. According to S.D., Rabin worked for him as the actual person who transferred the bribes to public officials after S.D. and the officials had agreed to the amounts.
Rabin would receive checks and then convert the checks into cash to give to the public officials, S.D. said.
For his part in the scheme, Rabin's monthly salary rose from NIS 11,500 monthly to NIS 15,000 monthly to NIS 21,500 monthly.
A spokesman for Olmert had said on Sunday that S.D.’s allegations against Olmert are “a collection of tales from One Thousand and One Nights, [taken] from the feverish mind of the lying” state witness.
“Instead of putting the man behind bars,” Olmert’s media adviser Amir Dan continued, the prosecution “bought his testimony for millions and continues, even today when he is testifying, to hide from the public his identity and details of the many things promised him.”
Defense attorneys had renewed on Sunday a previously made objection to the gag order on S.D.'s identity, but the court put off the issue for a separate hearing.
S.D. also implicated on Sunday Lupolianski, businessman Hillel Cherny, Polar Investments CEO Avigdor Kellner, Polar Investments manager Amnon Safran and Kardan Real Estate CEO Shimon Galon.
S.D. said Cherny gave him NIS 9 million to be used for bribes during the years 1994 to 1999.
S.D., is in his second day on the stand as part of a series of 12- hour appearances he is due to make in court nearly every day for the next two weeks.