Witness accuses Olmert, Lupolianski of taking bribes (JERUSALEM POST) By YONAH BOB 07/02/12)
JERUSALEM POST Articles-Index-Top
Ex-PM’s spokesman: Holyland trial built on witness with feverish,
lying mind; identity of key state witness S.D. remains protected.
The Holyland trial, holding in the balance the fates of former prime
minister Ehud Olmert, former Jerusalem mayor Uri Lupolianski, former
Bank Hapoalim CEO Dan Dankner and 13 other well-known defendants,
kicked off on Sunday with the state’s key witness testifying.
Two dozen defense attorneys and reporters from every major network
and newspaper in the country were jam-packed into a small courtroom
on the sixth floor of the Tel Aviv District Court before Judge David
In his first day of testimony, the state’s main witness declared that
the Holyland Affair could “never have happened” without Olmert. He
also said that businessman and owner of the Holyland corporation
Hillel Cherny was “absolutely involved” in every aspect of the affair.
Regarding Olmert, “S.D.” said that when they met to discuss the real
estate initiative, Olmert questioned him in a detailed fashion both
regarding the development and about how Olmert would get “reimbursed”
for assisting with project approvals. According to his testimony, at
the end of one meeting, Olmert told S.D. that he should turn directly
to him for any help he needed with getting government approvals.
A spokesman for Olmert said on Sunday that S.D.’s allegations against
Olmert are “a collection of tales from One Thousand and One Nights,
[taken] from the feverish mind of the lying” state witness.
“Instead of putting the man behind bars,” Olmert’s media adviser Amir
Dan continued, the prosecution “bought his testimony for millions and
continues, even today when he is testifying, to hide from the public
his identity and details of the many things promised him.”
The identity of S.D. has been and will continue to be protected by
court order even as he began his testimony in open court. Defense
attorneys renewed a previously made objection to the order, but the
court put off the issue for a separate hearing.
S.D., in his first day on the stand as part of a series of 12- hour
appearances he is due to make in court nearly every day for the next
two weeks, also implicated Polar Investments CEO Avigdor Kellner,
Polar Investments manager Amnon Safran and Kardan Real Estate CEO
S.D. said Cherny was the mastermind of the Holyland Affair (even
though S.D. said he himself initially proposed the idea) and that he
served as Cherny’s chief frontman in all transactions involving the
bribery of public officials to obtain favorable treatment, and in
some instances to approve building plans that should have been
rejected as illegal. S.D. said Cherny gave him NIS 9 million to be
used during the years 1994 to 1999.
Cherny also made all decisions about who to pay bribes to, how much
each official was “worth” and when to pay the bribes, the witness
said. There were even instances where S.D. tried to reach a
compromise with a particular public official on how high the bribe
should be, and Cherny vetoed the amount as too large a bribe relative
to what he conceived of as the particular official’s “fair market
value” in the hierarchy of being bought off, S.D. said.
According to S.D., Cherny paid him a regular salary to meet with
public officials and coordinate the advancement of the Holyland
project with them.
The salary included set minimums and could be significantly increased
based on how much additional profit S.D.’s fraudulent activities and
bribes brought in to the project.
S.D.’s method of operation was designed to insulate Cherny from
potential criminal charges and involvement in the project in general,
the witness said. For example, Cherny allegedly made S.D. the in-name-
only CEO of a company.
In reality, S.D. merely signed official documents to avoid Cherny
needing to have his name appear, but Cherny made every decision and
S.D. took no actions without his approval, S.D. said. He was not even
paid specifically for his “job” as CEO of the company, since in
reality all of his activities for the company were merely to cover
Cherny as part of the overall fraud for which S.D. did get paid, he
Despite Cherny being kept at arms’ length of most of the fraudulent
transactions with public officials, S.D. said that Olmert,
Lupolianski, Kellner, Safran, Golan and others were all told that
S.D. represented Cherny, and all knew the fraudulent nature of the
S.D. stated that his activities definitely paid off as the
construction authorities eventually approved a significant increase
in the area in which the Holyland project could be built.
Originally, the project was only approved for building on 25,000
meters of land, while eventually 311,000 meters of land were approved
Also, at first, 75 percent of the land for the Holyland project was
designated for hotels, whereas only 6,000 meters were designated for
residential units. However, after S.D. bribed key officials for
approving construction and rezoning, 160,000 meters were approved for
residential units, despite exceeding the regular construction
standards for the area on an “unprecedented” scale, he said.
After more than five hours, S.D. asked to be excused for the day and
to resume his testimony on Monday. He had previously asked that he
only have to testify in the mornings, but his request was rejected by
Apparently, now that the court has observed S.D. up-close, Rozen was
more willing to show flexibility and halted the proceeding almost six
Defense attorneys on Sunday lodged a number of complaints, including
alleging that the documents S.D. was presenting as evidence of the
defendants’ supposedly illegal actions were forgeries.
In that light, several defense attorneys repeatedly demanded copies
of the original of each document being submitted into evidence so
they could investigate the possibility of tampering.
The defense attorneys especially jumped on the state’s use of S.D.’s
documents when S.D. three times incorrectly referred to a photocopy
he was holding as an original.
Rozen effectively postponed the discussion of the documents’ veracity
by ruling that he would accept them into evidence, but withhold
judgment until a later date on how much weight to assign the
Accepting documents into evidence merely means that the judge will
consider the possibility that the documents may be relevant to his
ultimate verdict. If a document is rejected or found inadmissible, it
is ignored completely as if it does not exist. If it is accepted, the
judge can still ultimately decide that all or part of it is of
The defense attorneys’ numerous objections and interruptions signaled
that their strategy in the case will be to discredit S.D. at every
turn, arguing that there is no reason to accept either his testimony
or his documents at face value since S.D. has already admitted to
lying and to helping orchestrate a massive fraud. (© 1995-2011, The
Jerusalem Post 07/02/12)
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