It is unreasonable to doubt that former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert knew about the fraud committed on his behalf by his closest aides, the state prosecution wrote Monday in the main points of an appeal to the Supreme Court of his acquittal on fraud charges in July.
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The Jerusalem District Court thus erred when it acquitted Olmert of aggravated fraud, breach of trust and falsifying documents in the Rishon Tours case, the prosecutors wrote. The Rishon Tours travel agency allegedly double-billed various nonprofit organizations for trips Olmert took on their behalf and placed the extra money in a special bank account allegedly used for private travel by Olmert and his family.
“The appeal in the Rishon Tours case focuses on the error made by the lower court regarding whether the respondent [Olmert] was aware of the fraud that was being committed in his immediate environment and on his behalf, by employees of his bureau that were close to him – one his trusted bureau chief and confidant of many years, and the other one of his closest employees, who was in constant and intensive contact with him, inter alia, with regard to his travels,” wrote prosecutors Naomi Granot and Aryeh Peter, referring to Olmert’s bureau chief, Shula Zaken, and foreign relations coordinator, Rachel Risby-Raz.
“The honorable court is being asked to strike down the conclusions of the lower court that there was ‘reasonable doubt’ regarding the full involvement and awareness of the respondent, or at least at the level of turning a blind eye, to repeated acts of fraud committed on his behalf,” the prosecutors wrote.
With regard to the Talansky case, in which Olmert was accused of receiving tens of thousands of dollars in cash bribes from New York businessman Morris Talansky, prosecutors argued that it was impossible that Olmert had not committed some violation by receiving and keeping large sums of cash.
“The foundation of the appeal in the ‘Talansky case’ is the fundamental error made by the honorable lower court, according to which a senior elected official, who during his term as minister received tens of thousands of dollars, mostly in cash, for various purposes, keeps some of it in a secret cash kitty managed secretly by his friend [attorney Uri Messer] and by the respondent [Zaken]; doesn’t report receipt and retention of this money to anyone, and even makes deficient declarations to the state comptroller, in which these funds are deliberately omitted; and at the same time assists, ex-officio, the provider of these funds – isn’t committing fraud and breach of trust,” the prosecutors wrote.
The prosecutors also asked the Supreme Court to increase the sentence meted out to Olmert for the one count of breach of trust he was convicted of in the Investment Center case. He was given a suspended sentence and fined NIS 75,500.
Olmert’s media adviser, Amir Dan, said, “There is nothing behind this appeal other than the desire by various officials in the prosecution for revenge and persecution of Olmert. It’s a scandal that such a strong system uses its power to continue to hurt a person, after so many years in which it already hurt him and his family, and after the court already determined that the prime minister of the State of Israel was brought down for nothing.”