Olmert: I never sent Messer to get funds from Talansky

Though he was aware of debt, former prime minister says Messer was campaign chief, and therefore all financial responsibilities were his.

Olmert at trial (photo credit: Dudi Vaknin)
Olmert at trial
(photo credit: Dudi Vaknin)
Standing trial for the eighth day in front of the Jerusalem District Court, former prime minister Ehud Olmert denied on Monday that he had asked his one-time attorney and former head of the "Jerusalem United for Olmert" campaign Uri Messer to solicit funds from US businessman Moshe Talansky in order to close a NIS 2 million debt that the campaign had accumulated.
Messer had allegedly sought Olmert's aid in helping to pay back the debt, and the former prime minister had pointed him in the direction of Talansky, who had deposited nearly $300,000 in Messer's account between 1998-1999.
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According to lawsuit, the funds were deposited initially as a guarantee for the account, but later, in 2002, served to cover the organizations debt.
When questioned by his defense attorney Mavot Tel Zur, Olmert claimed that he did not send Messer to Talansky after elections for the sake of paying off the bank debt. The former prime minister said that he had sent Messer to Talansky a number of months prior to elections and before a debt had surfaced in order to gather insurance for the campaign bank account.
"I have no doubt that I was informed of the growing debt after elections, but I promised to collect money and solve the problem," Olmert testified.
Olmert said that he place all responsibility for collecting funds on Messer. He insisted that Messer had offered to assume the position of campaign chair before the 1998 elections, and that Olmert had agreed, and that therefore Messer had become responsible for registering funds and receipts, and reporting to the state comptroller to track payments and debts and all other financial issues the campaign may face.