Police Recommend Indicting ex-PM Olmert Over Holyland Corruption

Olmert suspected of accepting more than NIS 1 million in bribes during his terms as Jerusalem mayor and Trade minister in exchange for advancing real estate deals.

The police informed former prime minister Ehud Olmert on Monday that it will recommend that the state indict him over corruption charges surrounding the Holyland apartment project in Jerusalem.

Olmert / Holyland building Tomer Appelbaum
Tomer Appelbaum

According to police, the investigation into the affair produced strong evidence against Olmert on bribery, fraud and breach of trust charges. In addition, the police announced most of the other suspects in the affair would also likely be indicted.

Olmert is suspected of having accepted bribes worth more than NIS 1 million during his term as mayor of Jerusalem and later, while serving as trade minister, in exchange for advancing the interests of real estate developers involved in the Holyland project, as well as other real estate developments. The bribes were allegedly funneled through Olmert's office manager Shula Zaken and his close associate and attorney Uri Messer.

The police announced in a statement that strong evidence had been gathered against Zaken, who is suspected of accepting bribes, mediating bribes, breach of trust and money laundering, and against Uri Lupolianski, who succeeded Olmert as Jerusalem mayor. Former city engineer Uri Sheetrit and Olmert's two deputies in the mayor's office are also suspected in the affair.

The police statement went on to say that evidence had also been gathered against those who allegedly offered the bribes. However, the police failed to gather enough evidence to indict Messer, once Olmert's closest confidant.

Olmert's media adviser Amir Dan said in response that instead of making baseless recommendations, the police should stop hiding information from the public and lift the "outrageous gag order" on the state's witness who allegedly helped police build the case. "Olmert has declared in the clearest fashion that he has never accepted a bribe, neither directly nor indirectly," he said.