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Major Turn in Olmert Investigation – Police Successfully Divert PM’s Attention

olmert f1.jpgDespite Moshe Talansky’s return to Israel for a family simcha, it appears that this time around, the state’s star witness will not dominate the news as police have successfully diverted Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s attention, permitting them to establish evidence in a new chapter in the growing corruption case building against him.


According to media reports, Olmert’s legal team was busying itself with countering allegations stemming from the damaging testimony by Moshe Talansky, preparing for the cross examination, which is expected to last a number of days. Members of the Israel Police have been operating in North America, interviewing a list of witnesses in the case, leading the nation to believe the entire matter focused on the Talansky deposition and the events surrounding it. According to police, over a period of years, Olmert accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars from Talansky.

According to all reports, the prime minister and his lawyers were caught off-guard during Friday morning’s interrogation session, with questions surrounding Olmert’s travels, leading to evidence that the former Jerusalem mayor and cabinet minister embezzled funds from many non-profit organizations, including the IDF’s soldier’s Libi Fund, which seeks to assist lone soldiers and provide assistance for IDF troops, Yad Vashem, and AKIM, an organization assisting mentally disabled children.

“Despicable” is just one of the adjectives being used as the latest details of the investigation against the prime minister are released. Olmert’s legal team in its response to the latest damaging details perhaps wisely ignored the crux of the allegations and focused on attacking police for compromising the principles of a democratic society by releasing information pertaining to an ongoing investigation.

In the meantime, the latest round of questioning points to an elected officials who may indeed hold the record for corruption in office – with police alleging that Olmert in his travels abroad accepted double, triple and even quadruple payment for airline tickets when agreeing to be a featured or keynote speaker at fund-raising events for charitable organizations. In return, the organizations funded his travel tickets and expenses. Each organization however was unaware that one, two and three other organizations were also paying for the very same tickets and travel expenses, with the money being deposited directly into an Olmert family account which was used to provide plane tickets for Olmert’s wife and children. Police allege that this alone led to Olmert profiting $110,000.


The new chapter in the investigation against PM Olmert is being called Olmert Tours by the Israeli media, relating to his travels abroad in behalf of non-profits.

Hearing of the latest developments in the case, one head of a non-profit stated, “How can this be? We are trying to help handicapped children. I could cry!”

The travel expense scam that Olmert allegedly ran occurred during his tenure as mayor of Yerushalayim and they followed him in his capacity as minister of trade & industry. Justice Ministry and Israel Police officials released the information a number of hours following Friday’s third questioning session of the prime minister by police, opening an entirely new chapter of alleged corruption before the nation in addition to the cash-filled envelopes of Moshe Talansky.

Police accuse Olmert of multiple billing of airline tickets and travel expenses on at least 12 occasions during which he was a keynote speaker to raise funds for organizations, which include the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Yad Vashem, AKIM, Libi, Aleh, which cares for the most severely disabled children in Israel.

As explained above, Olmert established an account with his travel agent, Rishon Tours and the funds were used to serve his family members. Police insist that Olmert was personally aware of what was taking place, working in tandem with his long-time aide and confidant Shula Zaken, as well as Rachel Risby-Raz, who released a message expressing her “sadness by the lies spread daily by the media.”

Police have already questioned many people in this case, including employees of the travel agency. A raid also took place in the office of Rishon Tours, and documents with relevance to the case were confiscated.

Raz went on to sing praise for Olmert, saying “everyone knows what a wonderful man his is,” seemingly rejecting any wrongdoing. Police on the other hand place her at the helm of the fictitious scam which was used against many public charitable organizations to fund vacations for the Olmert family.


According to reports, Olmert denied wrongdoing, telling his interrogators that his family’s trips were funded by travel credits and not by any illegal activities. Police however seem to have the proof in hand, rejecting his attempted defense, stating in actuality, his family traveled on the expense of the public charities that unknowingly double and triple paid for travel tickets.


Olmert’s public relations man, Amir Dan, called on police to stop leaking information to the media.

The prime minister himself accused police of violating basic tenets of democracy, seeking to paint himself as the underdog, calling the investigations against him a personal campaign to take him down.

Police on the other hand stated if Olmert was not the prime minister, he would have been arrested a long time ago.


Shula Zaken played a major role in the ticketing scam according to police. She was questioned again by police on Friday as well. Zaken is viewed as Olmert’s personal assistant who has been at his side since his early days in the political arena, earning her way to the post of director of the Prime Minister’s Bureau.

Police in this case are confident that Zaken and Raz worked in concert, with Olmert’s knowledge, as they steadily brought in funds to finance Olmert family vacations.

One of his victims in the travel affair was Moshe Talansky, who apparently funded airline tickets on a number of occasions, unaware that others were simultaneously doing the same.


Olmert made sure to keep Rishon Tours in the picture, earning them a 7% commission on travel arrangements. Even after the agency lost a tender to continue furnishing travel tickets and plans for government ministries, they continued doing business with Olmert. Travel agency officials are also included on the list of suspects in the case.


Police report that the prime minister’s son Ariel was among the benefactors of the $100,000. He lives in Paris. Also listed is a flight to London by his daughter Donna Olmert.


In 1977, Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin was compelled to step down from office by then Attorney General Aaron Barak, who was by most accounts, significantly more powerful than Israel’s current attorney general, Menachem Mazuz.

The funds held by Yitzchak and Leah Rabin were not deemed illegal per see, but the law at the time did not permit maintaining a bank account abroad. The violation led to Rabin stepping down.

In the meantime, the calls for Olmert to step down can be heard from across the political spectrum, but seemingly unscathed, Olmert departed on schedule on motzei Shabbos, traveling to Paris to attend the Mediterranean Conference.

Kadima officials are remaining conspicuously quiet; a move that most analysts believe will have a negative impact on the party’s integrity among voters. The party is scheduled to hold primaries in mid-September, and elections or the appointment of a new prime minister and the formation of a new government may still be sometime off in the somewhat distant future.

(Yechiel Spira – YWN Israel)

6 Responses

  1. Nobody on this forum likes Olmert, but this news item seems to be taken from some gossip-corner. Even if all this is true, shouldn’t we be a bit more aware of shmiras haloshon before mentioning so many names?

  2. Evrybody should see. How many pepole was arrested for KEDISCHUS YERISCHLAYIM when olmert was mayor the same plice dept. Who he was send to arrest the same dept is doing all efforts to arrest him

  3. In my humble opinion the problem is that politicians are underpaid. Most CEO’s are paid multi-milion dollars salaries, with one of the reasons being so that they should have no reason to embezzle. Politicians have to live high life styles, and a 100+K salary does not cover their expenses. Look at House speaker Snow who just died, he had to take a loan in order to survive with a 150+K salary, and he had to resign when the loan money ran out. If we don’t raise salaries, all our politicians will keep on being either from the rich elite, or embezzlers.

  4. The police are fed up with Olmert’s refusal to counterattack the Arabs when they R”L attack the Israelis. They want to get rid of him so they are able to protect not only Israelis but themselves too!

  5. Pinocchio, Snow White and Superman are walking in the street when they come across a sign:

    “Beauty contest for the most beautiful woman in the world.”

    “I am entering,” said Snow White. After half an hour she comes out and they ask her, “Well, how was it?”

    “First Place”, said Snow White.

    They continue walking and they see a sign: “Contest for the strongest man in the world.”

    “I’m entering,” says Superman and after half an hour he returns and they ask him, “How was it?”

    “First Place,” answers Superman.

    They continue walking when they see a sign: “Contest! Who is the greatest liar in the world?”

    Pinocchio enters. After half an hour he returns with tears in his eyes. “What happened?” they asked,

    “Who is this Olmert?” asked Pinocchio.

  6. 1. years ago (20 or more) there was a “minor” scandal of govt officials (mk’s and ministers) receiving govt opd first class tickerts, cashing themn in for 2 coach tickets for themselves and their wive’s (gf’s ??)

    2. most importantly, rabin did NOT resign because of his us dollar bank accounts in us banks, he lost a no confidence vote over his being in lod airport for a ceremonial receiving of us f-16 jets on shabat. it was CHILLUL SHABAT, not his illegal us dollar bank accounts that did him in, and led to the begin likud govt, the last real govt israel has had.

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