Olmert says he'll surrender benefits as former PM

Former PM preempts moral turpitude hearing on actions in Investment Center affair that could bar him from public office.

FORMER PRIME MINISTER Ehud Olmert in court 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
FORMER PRIME MINISTER Ehud Olmert in court 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Ehud Olmert intends to give up his benefits as former prime minister, his attorney Eli Zohar told the prosecution Tuesday.
The declaration comes ahead of the prosecution's request to the Jerusalem District Court to rule that the actions for which Olmert was convicted in the Investment Center Affair, constitute moral turpitude.
A classification of moral turpitude would bar Olmert from holding public office for seven years, but would also strip him of the benefits afforded to former premiers. The benefits include an office, staff, telephone, car, driver and related expenses.
Olmert was found guilty of breach of trust in the I
nvestment Center affair in July, while he was acquitted of central corruption charges against him in the Rishon Tours and Talansky affairs.
In one of the most significant corruption trials in Israel’s history, Olmert was being tried on three main charges of corruption – dubbed the Rishon Tours affair, the Talansky or cash envelopes affair and the Investment Center affair. The indictment spanned events that allegedly took place during 2002-2006, first during Olmert’s tenure as mayor of Jerusalem and later when he served as a government minister.
Other charges listed on the indictment included that Olmert failed to disclosed donations from US businessman Joe Almaliah to the state comptroller.
Following the verdict, lawyers defending Olmert stressed that though found guilty of minor charges in the Investment Center affair, Olmert was acquitted of the central charges against him. "There were technical improprieties," said Navit Negev, Olmert's defense attorney in the Rishon Tours affair. "But the improprieties were nothing like the charges laid out in the indictment of former prime minister Ehud Olmert."

The Investment Center affair relates to the period when Olmert was minister of industry, trade and labor. The prosecution contended that Olmert granted illegal favors to Uri Messer – Olmert’s longtime friend and former partner – who applied to the Investment Center for state grants and other benefits.
Joanna Paraszczuk contributed to this report