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Talansky deposed in Olmert case

Israeli prosecutors deposed American businessman Morris Talansky as part of the corruption probe against Ehud Olmert.

Talansky, who was detained by police during a Passover visit to Israel, appeared at Jerusalem District Court on Tuesday to answer questions about his ties to the prime minister.

He testified to giving Olmert cash gifts amounting to some $150,000 while he was in previous government posts, but denied that this constituted bribery.

“I never expected anything personally. I never had any personal benefits from this relationship whatsoever,” the New York-based financier said, according to courtroom reporters.

When the case came to light this month, Olmert described Talansky’s contributions as financing for successful 1993 and 1998 campaigns to be elected Jerusalem mayor and his failed 2003 run to lead the Likud Party.

Israeli media have reported that as much as $500,000 in money Olmert received from Talansky is unaccounted for. Israeli law limits political funding from foreign sources.

Olmert has vowed to resign if indicted in the Talansky case.

Talansky’s testimony, designated as a “preliminary deposition” by prosecutors, is a condition for him being allowed to return home. He is expected to leave Israel on Wednesday.

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