Olmert denies accepting cash from U.S. businessman Morris Talansky


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in testimony at his corruption trial denied accepting envelopes full of cash from American businessman Morris Talansky.

As his multi-day testimony in Jerusalem Municipal Court moved to the Talansky affair, Olmert said Thursday that Talansky’s testimony was made up of "fantasies," and that no cash was involved in Talansky’s campaign contributions and personal donations. He also said the rumors that Talansky lent him money were false. 

Talansky allegedly gave Olmert envelopes containing thousands of dollars in cash over a period of several years. Talansky testified that Olmert would only accept cash donations.

Making his first comments on the Talansky case in court, Olmert said he received money from Talansky in the form of political donations for his campaign, refunds for hotel expenses when he spoke at events organized by Talansky and $40,000 for legal expenses in 1996.

Olmert is on trial in three cases: for allegedly paying for family vacations by double billing Jewish organizations through the Rishon Tours travel agency; for allegedly accepting envelopes full of cash from Talansky; and for allegedly granting personal favors to attorney Uri Messer when he served as trade minister in the Investment Center case.

The ex-Israeli leader is charged with fraud, breach of trust, falsifying corporate records and tax evasion.

Olmert is the first former Israeli prime minister to stand trial. He resigned as prime minister in September 2008 after police investigators recommended that he be indicted.

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