Olmert Sues State Prosecutor for Libel Over 'Scandalous Loan' Claims

Moshe Lador told Haaretz in an interview last week that the former had failed to repay a $75,000 personal loan, rejecting Olmert's claims to the contrary and demand for apology.

Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has filed a libel suit against State Prosecutor Moshe Lador after the latter gave an interview to Haaretz last week describing a "scandalous" personal loan taken out by the prior 18 years ago.

Lador earlier this week rejected Olmert's demands for an apology over his statements regarding a $75,000 received from his American businessman friend Joe Elmaliach.

Ehud Olmert
Michal Fattal

Lador also stood by his statement made to Haaretz correspondent Gidi Weitz that the loan was never repaid, rejecting Olmert's claims to the contrary.

"The claim of your client about the repayment of the said sum recently, many years after it was received and following indictments," wrote attorney Orit Sonn, deputy state prosecutor for civil affairs, to Olmert's lawyers on Tuesday, "is an entirely peripheral circumstance to the problematic matter of receiving money from a businessman and its use for private purposes all these years by a public figure, without explanation besides saying it was a loan ...

"This is so without even having to comment on the facts in the indictment about a further $100,000 that were transferred by the same person to the private account of your client, and which he intentionally avoided reporting to the state comptroller."

Following the publication, Olmert's lawyers sent a letter to Lador and to Haaretz, in which they claimed that Lador's statements to Haaretz Magazine seriously harm the good name of Olmert because the loan from Elmaliach was returned in full in early July last year, and that this was reported to both the state comptroller and the court.

Olmert's lawyers demanded an apology on his behalf and compensation that would be donated to a "public cause."

In her letter on Tuesday Sonn added that there is no dispute that the "loan" from Elmaliach was not returned until Olmert was indicted in 2009, more than 16 years after Olmert received the money.

The deputy state prosecutor wrote that in the interview Lador described the acceptance of the money from Elmaliach as "scandalous," and that "by this he expressed his view about the public aspect of the transfer of undocumented and significant amounts of money, from a businessman to a person with a public function, who kept the money for years."

Amir Dan, Olmert's media adviser, warned in response that "our letter to the state prosecutor was clear and if no apology is forthcoming, we will sue for libel in the coming days."