Former Prime Minister Olmert Denies Storing Funds in a 'Secret Safe'

Indictment says Olmert hid Talansky funds, in cash, in a safe in Attorney Uri Messer's office; Olmert says description of the safe as 'secret' is unfounded.

Former Prime Minster Ehud Olmert denied on Tuesday the clause in the indictment against him that states he stored funds in his friend Attorney Uri Messer's office in a "secret safe."

The indictment states that "between the years 2003 to 2006, during the defendants' term, among others as the Industry, Trade and Labor Minister, Olmert kept a 'secret safe' by means of his confidant Attorney Messer."

Olmert - 2.6.11
Kobi Gideon

The indictment goes on to state that large amounts of dollars, in cash, given by Morris Talansky were stored in the safe, as well as dollars belonging to Olmert which he had received from unknown sources.

In response to the accusation Olmert said "I unequivocally reject the argument as it appears in the indictment sheet. I did not keep a secret safe in any way or form. The claim in unfounded."

Olmert strongly denied the term used to describe the alleged safe, saying "whether it appears in quotation marks or not, the term aims to claim that there was a conspiracy, hidden, and that it involves corruption, and I strongly deny the entire matter."

The former prime minister concluded the first part of the testimony in his corruption trial on Thursday regarding the Rishon Tours affair, and started his testimony on the Talansky affair on Thursday.

As part of his corruption trial, Olmert was expected to respond to three main charges – Rishon Tours, the Talansky affair, and improperly interfering in decisions at the Industry Ministry's Investment Center.

Olmert added that the manner in which the indictment presents the affair "is part of a pathetic and methodic effort" and said that the cash was "political money for funding my continuous activity between elections."

Olmert added, however, that he was surprised to hear that Messer kept the money in cash. "In retrospect, I was surprised when I was told that it was in a safe. But there is nothing wrong with that. If the funds are legitimate, then keeping them in a safe is legitimate. What shocked me was the description of covert funds in a secret safe."