Talansky: Olmert told me to transfer $30,000 to his brother

Olmert spokesman: “This is a hallucinatory story. If someone wants to send money illegally, he won’t do it in a Fed- Ex envelope."

Talansky pouting 311 (photo credit: Israel Jerozolimski)
Talansky pouting 311
(photo credit: Israel Jerozolimski)
Moshe Talansky confirmed to police that he transferred $30,000 to former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s brother, Yossi, in November 2004, during a Tuesday hearing in the trial of Olmert and his close aide, Shula Zaken.
The trial focused for the first time in several months on the Talansky affair and the charges that Olmert received large sums of money from the American- Jewish businessman in cash, checks and bank transfers over several years.
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The witness who testified was David Friedland, an Israeli- American, who was Talansky’s partner in a New York-based business venture called Kool- Tech that sold minibars to hotels. Their partnership began in 2005, but Talansky was forced out when became embroiled in a legal battle.
The connection between Talansky and Yossi Olmert emerged indirectly, when sources close to Olmert revealed the transcript of a police interrogation of Talansky that took place on May 24.
It came in the wake of testimony by Friedland to police, which largely included a description of Talansky’s conduct during the period the two men knew each other.
According to the transcript, the police presented Talansky with a copy of a bank transfer for $30,000 from his bank to Yossi Olmert at Mizrahi Bank.
Before presenting the transfer, the interrogators questioned him about his connection with Yossi Olmert.
“I have none,” replied Talansky.
“I don’t know him. I never met him. I never saw him…I never spoke to him. I had no connection with him at all.”
Asked whether Ehud Olmert had ever asked him to help his brother, Talansky replied, “No.
He never spoke about his brother.”
After the interrogators presented him with a copy of the bank transfer, Talansky said, “I see the document. I don’t remember this transfer. Olmert must have given me the money to transfer or something...
I had no business giving Yossi Olmert $30,000.”
Yossi Olmert’s name has been linked to another corruption affair allegedly involving his brother, Ehud – the Holyland scandal. There have been reports that Ehud Olmert used some of the bribe money he allegedly received from the Holyland developers to help him repay his debts.
In response to the disclosure by the sources close to Olmert of the police investigation transcript, the Justice Ministry spokesman issued the following statement: “The prosecution is surprised that a testimony that the defense was opposed to presenting to the court found its way to the media soon after the hearing (and actually during the hearing).
The testimony was given solely to the defense for the purposes of conducting the trial. In these circumstances, the dissemination of the raw evidence, which has not been submitted to the court, is improper.”
During Friedland’s testimony, the prosecution tried to obtain information from him about Talansky’s ties with Olmert.
The witness said that in January 2006, as Kool-Tech employees watched a television program reporting that then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had suffered his second stroke and that Olmert would become acting prime minister, “Moshe Talansky started to go wild.
“It was a surrealistic scene,” testified Friedland. “He danced on the tables and was ecstatic.
It was sad to see so I threw him out of the office and told him to go home. It was inappropriate to do what he did. It was an unpleasant scene.”
Friedland then said that a few days later, while the two were driving somewhere, Talansky tried to mollify Friedland, whom he knew was mad at him.
“He told me about his ties with Olmert,” the witness said.
“How they got to know each other was when he was fundraising for Shaarei Tzedek Medical Center and the Jerusalem Fund and Olmert was serving as mayor of Jerusalem.
“You have to understand me,” Talansky said according to Friedland. “All these years I’ve been supporting Olmert, funding him. When he comes to New York, I buy him cigars and ties. He likes the good life.”
According to Friedland, Talansky told him, “I bet on the right horse. All politicians have their hands in someone’s pockets.”
Olmert’s lawyer, Nevot Tel- Tzur interrupted Friedland’s testimony to remind the court that the witness and Talansky were on bad terms.
Friedland went on say that he and his partner never got along well, but that the final break came when he was told by his son-in-law and by the secretary Sabrina Bicic, who was allegedly directly involved, that Talansky had brought an envelop of money into the office, asked Bici to count it and then had it sent by Fed-Ex to Olmert’s office in Israel. The envelop contained $10,000, he said.
Friedland added that he had blasted Talansky for involving Kool-Tech in his relations with Olmert, including sending the envelop at the company’s expense.
During cross-examination, Tel-Tzur pointed out that Bicic had denied Friedland’s description of these events during testimony before the US Federal Bureau of Investigation on July 8, 2008.
“Bicic does not specifically recall Talansky ever mentioning the name Ehud Olmert,” read the testimony summary.
“Bicic does not specifically recall a Federal Express envelop or package that was sent by Kool-Tech to Ehud Olmert in Israel.”
The defense attorney was in a complicated situation. On the one hand, he wanted to prove to the court that Friedland was an unreliable witness when it came to his testimony that incriminated Olmert. On the other hand, he wanted to stress that it was reliable when it came to Friedland’s allegations against Talansky – the state’s key witness in this affair.
Regarding Friedland’s story about the alleged Fed-Ex envelop, Olmert’s public relations team wrote, “This is a hallucinatory story. If someone wants to send money illegally, he won’t do it in a Fed- Ex envelop which is documented and registered, and he won’t send the envelop to a minister’s office, where it will be opened by the secretary in front of everyone. Furthermore, the police could not prove this ridiculous claim.
The secretary of Kool-Tech, and the secretaries in the minister’s office all said in their testimony that nothing like this ever happened, as did the Fed-Ex delivery person in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Employment.”
As for Friedland, Olmert’s team wrote, “By bringing Friedland today, the state prosecution has turned the trial into a circus in which it is not the facts that speak but tall stories that belong around the campfire rather than in court.”