Talansky Misleads Court in Collateral Bid to Leave Israel Before Deposition

Central witness in Olmert probe had offered to mortgage son's apartment, which he claimed he owned, to prove he would return to testify.

The central witness in the investigation against Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, American businessman Morris Talansky, told a Jerusalem court on Wednesday that he was willing to mortgage his Jerusalem apartment as collateral to ensure his return to Israel to testify.

However, Haaretz has learned that the apartment Talansky referred to does not belong to him, and thus the evidence presented to the court by his lawyer was misleading.

"For years now, he [Talansky] has visited his family in Israel frequently, an average of three or four times a year. In 1993, he acquired an apartment in Jerusalem which he used during his visits to Israel. Today, he is the owner of a second apartment, that which he has offered as collateral," said his lawyer, Jacques Chen, on Wednesday.

Talansky has contested a court request that he delay his stay of exit order to deliver his deposition.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his former bureau chief, Shula Zaken had requested that the date of Talansky's testimony be delayed for two weeks.

The Jerusalem District Court on Friday avoided a stark ruling on the matter, and ordered the parties involved to find a compromise to the request.

Talansky had asked for permission to leave the country as planned and return to give his testimony in June.

"As Mr. Talansky has an urgent need to return home, he will come back to Israel a number of days before he is meant to give his early testimony? In order to ensure the honorable court of his return to Israel, Mr. Talansky is willing to mortgage his Jerusalem apartment as collateral, valued at $1,300,000," his lawyer said.

Haaretz has learned that the apartment purchased by Morris Talansky in the 1990s has been under the ownership of his son, Isaac Allan Talansky, since 2001, for which he paid his father the price of NIS 2,000,000.

"My father bought apartment No. 4 in building No. 9 on Diskin Street and sold it to me in 2001. He has used the apartment ever since and pays the bills accordingly. I am of course willing to mortgage the apartment to ensure his return to Israel". This message was sent to Jack Chen by Talansky's son only after Haaretz turned to Talansky's lawyer and the false information had already been presented to the courts.

In response, Chen said, "I have made an innocent mistake. In any case, the matter at hand is insignificant, considering the fact that the mistake will be cleared up and reported to the prosecution and a letter from Talansky's son verifying the mortgaging of the apartment to ensure Mr. Talansky's return will be sent to them as well."