According to the report, a home registered in his wife Aliza’s name was sold in 1996 to American business tycoon Uri Harkham of Los Angeles, for the amount of $650,000. – 30% more than it was sold for its two concurrent sales.
The report states that Harkham is a known Olmert supporter, and in the past, contributed $25,000 to the former Jerusalem mayor’s campaign list. Olmert was represented by Attorney Uri Messer, a power-broker who has accompanied Olmert through his unlikely rise to power.
Olmert allegedly provided services worth millions of dollars to many of Messer’s other clients – effectively creating a price at which Olmert’s influence could be purchased.
Olmert’s office said that Olmert indeed paid a fee to Messer for the sale of the Nachlaot home, but refused to say how large it was.
Similar to the other ongoing investigations against Olmert for alleged bribery, it is alleged that the home was sold to a supporter under the guise of a legitimate real estate deal when in essence, the buyer overpaid, giving a bribe to Olmert.
Harkham sold the property on Sept 20, 2000 for $400,000, incurring a significant loss. Real estate experts report that although property values did indeed go down during the time period Harkham owned the home, he paid an inflated amount.
One investigation against Olmert, regarding a property in the Katamon area of the capital, was closed. In another case, wealthy American Jew S. Daniel Abraham paid an inflated sum for one of Olmert’s properties. A third investigation into yet another property is still ongoing.
Officials in the Prime Minister’s Office confirmed that the dates and amounts reported in the case are indeed accurate.