Olmert - Emil Salman
Former prime minister Ehud Olmert. Photo by Emil Salman
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Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert attacked the prosecution at his corruption trial in Jerusalem District Court yesterday, denying that he had any knowledge of the private bank account that was allegedly managed on his behalf by a Rishon Tours travel agent.

"This is a false accusation that has no basis, for which there is no evidence. I never knew about it," Olmert said in court. He added that the idea of having his own "'personal investment bank' is a fabrication of the prosecution. I didn't know that there was any such account ... I had no idea. No one told me that it exists.

"I didn't speak with any of my employees," Olmert added. "I didn't speak with people at Rishon Tours, I didn't give them any instructions of this or that kind ... Of course mistakes were made and I regret them and they cause me great embarrassment. But to try and build a case for it being methodical?" he asked the courtroom.

Toward the end of his testimony yesterday, he remarked on the "chutzpah and viciousness" of "people who never traveled even once to give a lecture and make the effort that I did for Yad Vashem", people who were accusing him "of creating a system that defrauded, among others, Yad Vashem. I was the only prime minister in the 60 years of the state to allocate NIS 2 billion for Holocaust victims."

Olmert also attacked the former Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry accountant general, Dan Marinov, for refusing to approve travel expenses due to budget limitations.

"In a normal country, I wouldn't need his approval. The cabinet approved it by a majority vote and the support of the Prime Minister's Office, and the ministry should have paid, period," said Olmert. "There's no such thing as approving the expense in advance. There never was anything like that. It is a fabrication created to hold unfounded accusations."