Leaving Office Has Been NIS 2.5 Million Cash Cow for Olmert

Source close to former PM indicted on charges of bribery says most of the money came from overseas.

Since former prime minister Ehud Olmert opened his consulting firm less than five months ago, it has brought in over NIS 2.5 million in revenues. A source close to Olmert said most of the money has come from overseas, and started flowing in immediately after Olmert left office.

Ehud Olmert Consulting Services, as the firm is called, is based in the Platinum Tower in Tel Aviv, where Olmert's state-funded office is also located. Olmert is the sole owner of the firm. The company was established on April 7 of this year, only a week after Olmert left his post as prime minister.

Olmert's lawyer, Eli Zohar, registered the company. The Registrar of Companies still has Olmert's address listed as 3 Balfour St., Jerusalem - the Prime Minister's Residence. This means Olmert, who is known for his connections with the rich and business sector, established the company before he changed his address and while he was still living in the official prime minister's home.

News reports after Olmert left office mentioned he was likely to work with one of his close associates, businessman and diamond merchant Beny Steinmetz, who owns diamond mines in a number of countries.

Steinmetz is also the owner of holding company Scorpio, which is a residential real estate developer, mostly in Eastern Europe. Reports said Olmert was supposed to travel to Guinea in Africa as part of his cooperation with Steinmetz.

However, Steinmetz's spokesman, Eli Davidovich, told Haaretz this week in response to a query that Steinmetz and Olmert have no business connections.

In addition to his consulting business, Olmert signed up with an American speakers bureau and lecture agency Greater Talent Network, which represents many politicians and celebrities.

Olmert's picture appears on the speakers bureau's home page and he is described as "one of the most influential and respected leaders in Israel's history." The site says Olmert's lectures offer "an in-depth analysis of the world's most difficult and complex issues, including international security, urban infrastructure, universal health care and education reform."

Olmert, who was recently indicted on charges of fraud, bribery, breach of trust and more, is scheduled to speak in October at Southern Arkansas University, with the event sponsored by Farmers Bank & Trust, a local bank.

Admission to the lecture, which includes a dinner, is $100. A small number of VIP tickets will also be sold at $200 each, which will also include a private reception with Olmert.

"He is a private person and it is a private company," Olmert's spokesman Yanki Galanti said. "All the company's business is reported as required by law to the relevant authorities and the press is not one of them."

As to whether Olmert is connected to Steinmetz's businesses, Galanti said "I will not comment on the company's clients or activities, and this in no way confirms or denies anything."