American financier testifies to giving PM Olmert $150,000 from 1991 to 2005

Long Island financier Morris Talansky, the chief prosecution witness in case against prime minister Ehud Olmert described a long history of sums amounting to $150,000 handed to the suspect in cash or personal credit card when he refused to accept checks.
The financier testified for seven hours in a pre-trial hearing at the Jerusalem district court Tuesday, May 27, which Olmert’s attorneys tried hard and failed to prevent.
The prosecutor general presented documents showing that Talansky acted as guarantor for a $300,000 debt incurred by the association which ran Olmert for election as mayor of Jerusalem.
Talansky stated firmly that, except in one case, the moneys were not requested for campaign funding – the period covers Olmert’s terms as mayor of Jerusalem and cabinet minister – but to finance Olmert’s visits to America. The witness did not ask for receipts because he considered he was giving charity.
He said he paid for the prime minister’s first-class and business class flights, plush hotel suites, room service and lavish entertaining. He testified to Olmert’s taste for expensive cigars, watches and fountain pens.
In one case, Olmert asked Talansky for the use of his credit card from which he drew $4,000. Mrs. Aliza Olmert’s paintings were on exhibition in Washington at the time.
In another instance, Talansky described how he gathered donors at his personal expense for a religious college, at the end of which Olmert asked for an extra $3,000 for expenses. The last time the prime minister solicited funds was in 2003 when he asked for $70,000 for a primary campaign. “I was surprised, but I gave him the money, and heard no more from him. He tried later to recover some of the money which he loaned Olmert but failed. The American businessman explained that his generosity to Olmert for 15 years was motivated by his love of Israel and Jerusalem and friendship – not personal gain.
Olmert’s lawyers decided not to cross-question the witness at this stage.
debkafile adds: Hanging over the Knesset summer session is the expectation of an early general election. Several prominent members of Olmert’s Kadima party are preparing to challenge his leadership. Several no-confidence motions are in the pipeline plus demands for the prime minister to be suspended in view of the gravity of the suspicions against him.
He is committed to step down if indicted.

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