Ehud Olmert's Lawyers Receive Talansky's Bank, Credit Records

The State Prosecutor's Office is continuing to send material related to the Talansky affair to the lawyers representing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his former bureau chief, Shula Zaken. The lawyers received printouts Sunday from accounts held by American businessman fundraiser Morris Talansky at Citibank in the United States, and from his credit-card accounts. The businessman is suspected of transferring to Olmert envelopes containing cash over a period of many years.

Receipt of the financial records in the last few days will enable the lawyers to check transactions in Talansky's accounts and to cross-reference them with his testimony about withdrawals.

Talansky was interrogated by the police for a few hours yesterday, ahead of his appearance tomorrow at the Jerusalem District Court. The content of his response was conveyed immediately afterward to lawyers for Olmert and Zaken, to allow them to prepare their cross-examination of Talansky.

Together with Talansky's declarations, the lawyers were also sent statements made to the police by Olmert's former partner, attorney Uri Messer.

The court ruled on Friday that Talansky's deposition will continue for several days if necessary, but lawyers for Olmert and Zaken announced they will request to cross-examine the witness only in July, because they have not had enough time to go over all of the case material.

Investigators in the case are working now to try to cross-reference transactions in Talansky's accounts with other findings, including information in Zaken's day-planner, which also points, allegedly, to money transfers from Talansky to Olmert. "The investigators are working now to close the evidentiary circles," law enforcement sources said Sunday.

According to those sources, investigators want to make sure that the various pieces of evidence in the case back each other up. Among other things, law enforcement officials are trying to ensure that Talansky's testimony regarding a particular meeting with Olmert, in which he apparently gave the Israeli leader an envelope containing bills, is corroborated by a cash withdrawal from Talansky's bank account. They are also working to document Olmert's stays at hotels where several meetings with Talansky allegedly took place.

Meanwhile, investigators are looking into whether transactions in Talansky's accounts correspond, time-wise, to Zaken's entries in the diaries the police seized. In the coming weeks police investigators are planning to visit the U.S. to study the evidence in greater depth, and to bolster Talansky's deposition with independent reports. They intend to hold a series of depositions, to search Talansky's offices and perhaps even to visit the hotels where the meetings with Olmert supposedly took place. As far as is known, the U.S. has yet to give the prosecution and police permission to conduct investigative activities on American soil.

Law enforcement officials have labeled Talansky's testimony "solid." Police investigators and officials at the State Prosecutor's Office believe that there are no extraneous motives behind Talansky's willingness to testify, and that the evidence he is giving is credible. The police have described Olmert's testimony as constituting a solid foundation for an indictment. "From the moment Olmert himself admitted in his first interrogation that he had received cash from Talansky over the years, he essentially confirmed the incriminating evidence against him," sources said.

However, lawyers for Olmert and Zaken have insisted that Olmert's statements are "harmless." At a Jerusalem District Court hearing on Friday, Olmert's lawyer, Eli Zohar, told the court that his client's testimony "does not uproot any mountains, nor is it earth-shaking." Sources familiar with the case have claimed that Olmert's testimony confirms that money was transferred from Talansky to Olmert, but does not explain for what purposes, nor what was done with the money. The police ascribe great importance to attorney Messer's testimony, in which he apparently confirmed that over the years he received cash from Olmert through Zaken, which originated with Talansky, and that Messer allegedly gave Olmert cash from the sums in his possession.