(photo credit: Ronen Zvulun/Reuters)
The state’s witness in the Holyland trial on Sunday explained how he covered up
the alleged bribes he purportedly paid to former prime minister Ehud Olmert,
former Jerusalem mayor Uri Lupolianski and many of the other defendants in the
The Holyland trial, which deals with the large Jerusalem
construction project of the same name, is a massive corruption case involving
allegations against Olmert, Lupolianski, former Bank Hapoalim CEO Dan Dankner
and 13 other defendants.
According to the state’s witness, known only as
“S.D.” due to a gag order, most of the funds from 1994 to 1999 – when he was
paying a large volume of bribes – were transferred not from the main Holyland
Corporation involved in the project, but from a side corporation called Holyland
Besides insulating the main company from direct involvement in
the bribery, S.D. recorded the bribes as personal loans that he was making to
others, he said.
S.D. explained that despite marking them as loans, he
was never paid back any of the money and never expected to receive any of them
back, as they were bribes. Labeling them as loans was just part of the
Besides his own testimony that none of these transactions were
actually loans and that all of them were illegal bribes, the state’s witness
noted suspicious circumstances surrounding the transactions.
millions of shekels were being “loaned,” S.D. said that he never took any kind
of security or mortgage, nor did he sign any kind of document to protect
businessman and Holyland Corporation owner Hillel Cherny, who was funneling the
bribery-designated funds to him.
The state’s witness said he was not
familiar with anyone who lent that much money without signing legal documents,
and usually also receiving various mortgages or securities in
At the same time, Cherny was giving S.D. approximately $50,000
a month to keep up with the alleged bribes, he said.
The trial, now in
its second week – after the early days of revelations and flamboyant accusations
against Olmert, Lupolianski and the other defendants – is at the stage where the
prosecution is recording the details and method of the bribery and fraud
allegedly committed by those behind the Holyland project and the public
officials whom they purportedly paid off.