2nd day of 'Holyland' ends; more Olmert revelations

State witness: I gave Olmert NIS 1.5 m., cigars. Once gave 'emergency' $10,000 to Olmert through former PM's driver.

Olmert arriving at trial 311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
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 in advancing the Holyland project and overcoming legal and political obstacles that would have limited the project’s profitability.
In one instance, the witness said he gave Olmert an “emergency injection” of $10,000 via Olmert’s driver.
“S.D.” made his allegations on the second day of the Holyland trial, which ended after over five hours of testimony for the second-straight day upon the request of the state’s main witness.
The witness is officially known only as “S.D.” because of a gag order protecting his identity.
He was due to testify each day, starting Sunday, from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. for nearly two weeks, but in both of the first two days, has tired around midday and requested a recess after only about half the time allotted.
The Holyland trial, which deals with the large Jerusalem construction project of the same name, is a massive corruption case involving allegations of fraud and bribery against Olmert, former Jerusalem mayor Uri Lupolianski, former Bank Hapoalim CEO Dan Dankner and 13 other defendants.
In his second day of testimony, S.D. said that whenever he met with Olmert, they gave each other hugs and kisses, and that Olmert’s door was always open 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 as a result of the elections in 1993 and 1999, as well as Olmert’s Likud primary election campaign against former prime minister Ariel Sharon in 1999.
S.D. said that he first met Olmert personally around 1993- 1994.
Regarding Shula Zaken, Olmert’s former bureau chief, S.D. said that the former prime minister 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 himself.
The state witness said that he saw this being confirmed in practice, as any time 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.
He also said that Olmert knew that he was receiving unlawful funds from businessman Hillel Cherny, through S.D., and that Olmert had thanked S.D. for them 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.”
In another instance, Zaken called S.D. sounding alarmed and requesting emergency assistance to pay an NIS 50,000 debt. S.D. wanted to help but did not have immediate access to that amount of funds in shekels soon enough for Zaken.
S.D. solved the dilemma by suggesting to Zaken that he give her the $10,000 that he had on hand since he had just returned from traveling out of the country.
Zaken was happy with the plan and sent Olmert’s driver to receive the funds. Later, Zaken called S.D. to thank him on behalf of Olmert.
S.D. also recounted instances in which he said he had given up to NIS 350,000 in funds directly to Zaken to pay for her jewelry and furniture.
Delving into new portions of the Holyland scandal, 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 them 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 to NIS 21,500.
A spokesman for Olmert responded that it was unfortunate that at this stage of the trial, everyone must patiently wait and listen to S.D. continue to dump falsehoods on Olmert.
He rejected all of S.D.’s new allegations, saying that the fact that S.D. would be making headlines for several days in a row was just a function of criminal trials, in which a witness testifies and is only later cross-examined.
He predicted that once S.D is crossexamined, the truth would come to light and all of S.D.’s lies, as he perceived them, would be exposed and thrown out by the court.
Olmert’s spokesman specifically noted that even the prosecution had admitted in its opening statement that they are not presenting all of the documents given to them by S.D. because they could not vouch for the veracity of some documents or were convinced that the documents were inaccurate.
On Sunday, S.D. implicated Lupolianski, 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 1994-1999.
If the early recesses continue – S.D. has been excused before the six-hour mark on his first two days in court – it is unclear if two weeks will be enough time for the full testimony.