Talansky Sued in US for Covering Olmert's Hotel Stay

Businessman Moshe Talansky is reportedly facing a lawsuit in the U.S., for allegedly paying Olmert's hotel tab in 2005. He will testify Tuesday.

Gil Ronen ,

American Jewish businessman Moshe (Morris) Talansky may be facing an F.B.I. investigation in the U.S. regarding his relationship with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, even as he is being interrogated in Israel.

In a pending lawsuit filed in 2007 in Nassau County, the minibar company Kool-Tech accused Mr. Talansky of improperly arranging to have the company reimburse him for a $4,717.49 hotel bill he incurred at the Ritz-Carlton in Washington in October 2005, when he paid for a night's stay by “a senior Israeli cabinet member that had no relation to the business."

Though the Israeli official was not named in the lawsuit, the New York Times reported that a lawyer for Kool-Tech disclosed two weeks ago that the man was Olmert, and that the hotel reservation had been made by Shula Zaken, Olmert’s longtime aide.

The lawyer, William J. Davis, said the company broke off ties with Mr. Talansky upon learning of the expenditure, "largely out of a desire to steer clear of doing anything illegal or running afoul of laws" like the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which prohibits bribes to foreign officials.

Davis said that he was told that the F.B.I. had opened an investigation that included Talansky’s activities, but claimed that Kool-Tech had yet to be contacted by the authorities.

Scheduled to testify in court
Talansky testified again Sunday at the police's National Fraud Investigations Unit offices in Bat Yam, regarding the "cash envelopes" affair.

Talansky is scheduled to testify in court in a pre-trial deposition Tuesday, after which he will return to his home in the United States. He has said that he must return to America to care for his ailing wife, but that he plans to return to Israel next in mid-June for a grandson's wedding.

'I expected nothing in return'
In an earlier interrogation session, Talansky told investigators from the police’s anti fraud unit that he gave Prime Minister Ehud Olmert money that was not used for elections.

“I gave Olmert money that was not used to cover elections debts or to fund the election campaign,” Talansky said, according to information leaked to the press. 

Talansky’s admission contradicted Olmert’s claim that all of the money he was given went to cover campaign costs or to pay back debts incurred during his political campaigns. Talansky continues to insist that he did not receive any benefits in exchange for the money given to Olmert, and that he had no intention of getting anything in return when he gave Olmert hundreds of thousands of dollars.