Rishon Tours Covered Olmert's Debt With Other People's Money

Former prime minister allegedly used $92,164 stolen from public groups to pay for private travel.

Former prime minister Ehud Olmert's debts to the Rishon Tours travel agency were covered by funds taken from the accounts of other customers, without these customers' knowledge or permission, according to the indictment against Olmert.

Olmert's account contained $92,164 stolen from public organizations, which was used to pay for private travel for Olmert and his family, according to the indictment. However, by the time Olmert became prime minister, the account was overdrawn by more than $11,000. Olmert stopped using the account after the election, but his son charged the account $2,741 for flights between the time of the general election and October 2007.

Olmert built up a relationship with Rishon Tours owner Emanuel Baumelshpiner, according to the indictment. Around May 2007, after some conversations between the two, Olmert sent Rishon Tour five checks for NIS 2,492. The checks totaled NIS 12,460, around a quarter of the debt.

In December 2007, Baumelshpiner ordered the agency to cover the rest of the debt by taking thousands of dollars from the accounts of other customers, without their knowledge or authorization, the indictment states.

Baumelshpiner has not yet been registered as a prosecution or state's witness.

Olmert's media adviser Amir Dan said in a statement, "The matter was not brought up in Olmert's interrogations, and he himself only learned those details from reading the indictment. We have no idea if those details are true or not, and the full picture will become clearer in the court."

The Justice Ministry said a decision has not yet been made as to whether to indict Baumelshpiner. The businessman himself declined to comment.