Police Suspect Former PM Olmert Used Holyland Bribe Money to Bail Out Brother

Investigators trying to ascertain whether some of the NIS 3.5 million Olmert is accused of receiving as a bribe was used for the 2004 buyout of a family cemetery plot.

A police representative will be meeting with former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert next week to discuss getting access to papers that could help investigators determine whether he bailed out one of his brothers with funds he is accused of received as bribes.

Fraud investigators are trying to ascertain whether some of the NIS 3.5 million Olmert is accused of receiving as a bribe was used for the 2004 buyout of the family cemetery plot of one of his brothers, Yossi. The former premier and two of his brothers, Ami and Yirmi Olmert, bought the Binyamina plot from Yossi to help him out of financial straits.

Ehud Olmert  - Michal Fattal
Michal Fattal

The police are also interested in finding out which bank accounts were used to send the money, to help them track how the former prime minister transferred and received funds.

Next week's meeting is part of an investigation into allegations that Olmert took the bribes - some NIS 500,000 of which allegedly went to his brother Yossi - to promote the Holyland luxury housing project in Jerusalem while he served as mayor between 1993 and 2003. The prosecution announced Monday that it is planning to indict Olmert on bribery and corruption charges.

The Olmert brothers have said the papers are protected by attorney-client confidentiality, because they were seized from the office of Yossi Olmert's lawyer, Ronen Matalon, who was involved in the Binyamina purchase. The documents are being stored in sealed envelopes in a safe at the headquarters of the police's national fraud unit.

But the Olmert family is not actually opposed to allowing the police to examine the papers, said Eli Zohar, who represents Ehud Olmert. Zohar said there was no need to claim confidentiality for the documents, but it was necessary to examine them to make sure no unrelated personal papers had also been seized at the same time.

Documents related to Yossi Olmert's bankruptcy proceedings were among the papers seized from Matalon's office last year, but Yossi has recently agreed to waive attorney-client confidentiality for those documents, a law enforcement official said.

Investigators have looked into whether the bankruptcy proceedings were connected to the alleged bribe money, but have not found any link.

Ehud and Yossi Olmert have been estranged for several years, and they communicate primarily through their lawyers.