Tycoons Adelson, Abraham Questioned in Olmert Bribery Probe

Police questioned billionaire Adelson over the suspicion that Olmert asked him to buy from Talansky. Abraham suspected of giving Olmert money.

Gil Ronen ,

Sheldon Adelson with Peres and Olmert Tuesday
Sheldon Adelson with Peres and Olmert Tuesday
(Israel News Photo: Ezra HaLevi)

Police investigators questioned billionaire Sheldon Adelson and tycoon S. Daniel Abraham Tuesday, as part of the widening investigation against Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. The two are in Israel in order to attend the President's Conference being hosted by President Shimon Peres.

Police suspect that Adelson was one of the businessmen whom Olmert contacted at Moshe Talansky's behest, and asked to buy the mini-bars that Talansky was marketing for hotels that they own. Adelson told police he did not recall that Olmert ever made such a request.

In addition, the police's National Fraud Investigations Unit raided the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor Tuesday in search of evidence for the investigation against Olmert. They were reportedly searching for correspondences having to do with Olmert's recommendation of Talansky's mini-bars.

Adelson was detained for questioning Monday night at 11 PM, and Abraham was questioned Tuesday.

Abraham critical of investigation
The investigation so far has found no evidence that Olmert gave Talansky any actual assistance.

Abraham told reporters at the President's Conference that the timing of the investigation was bad. He said that the suspicions against Olmert "do not hold water."

The Attorney General and police decided to question the two businessmen despite the negative effect this could have on their attitude towards Israel. Police sources stressed that the two were not interrogated "under warning" – that is, they are not suspects themselves at this time.

Police reportedly suspect that Abraham gave Olmert large sums of money several years ago, as is suggested by some evidence which is in the police's possession.

The Olmert Diary
Police are expected to interrogate several people who are mentioned in what is known as "the Olmert diary" – a record of the daily events and transactions during the period that Olmert was Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor (2002 to 2005).

Police denied a report by the Israeli NFC website that they would soon be questioning Finance Minister Ronny Bar-On. The report claimed that Bar-On was suspected of helping Olmert carry out illegal actions during a political campaign and in illegally raising funds from Talansky and other donors for covering deficits.

According to Haaretz, the investigation so far has found no evidence that Olmert gave Talansky any actual assistance, which could be seen as payback for the money Talansky raised and transferred to Olmert over the years. Talansky denied that he has any business dealings in Israel or that he intended to open any businesses in the Jewish State.