Convicted and disgraced former Israeli PM Ehud Olmert has agreed to testify against former Labor PM and Defense minister Ehud Barak over accusations that Barak received millions of shekels in bribes related to lucrative government military contracts.
The allegations first surfaced in a report aired on Israeli TV. Channel 10 aired a great many tapes secretly made by OLmert’s close aide Shula Zaken, who has since turned state’s witness against Olmert.
In the conversation in question Channel 10 broadcast, recorded when Barak was still serving as Israel’s defense minister three years ago, Olmert called Barak “a lunatic,” and said Barak was “jealous” of a plush Audi car Olmert used to have.
Barak “will wind up in jail,” Olmert told Zaken in the recording. “You mark my words, Shula.”
Olmert then told Shula Zaken that Barak “took millions, tens of millions of dollars in bribes. There was no arms deal done by Israel [that was not affected]. Everybody is talking about it.”
“Where’s the money?” Zaken asked.
“He hides it,” said Olmert, “in Switzerland or somewhere.” The funds were transferred by Barak’s lawyers to companies abroad “where Barak’s name isn’t mentioned.”
Ehud Barak’s alleged accomplice was his brother-in-law, attorney Doron Cohen, who arranged the deals and handled the money.
It should be noted that Ehud Barak has denied the allegations. And that he played a large role in forcing Olmert to resign as Prime Minister after the corruption scandals surrounding Olmert began to emit their foul stench. So this could be payback.
Another possibly mitigating factor is that knowing what we know of Ehud Olmert, it’s unlikely that this particular rat would have allowed Ehud Barak to pull off something like this without demanding a cut for his silence.
However, there’s no doubt that Ehud Barack had both motive and opportunity as Israel’s defense minister to accept bribes for military contracts, and it certainly would explain a few questionable deals that went down while he was defense minister..as well as his cozy relationship with certain people in Washington DC.
Olmert is already facing six years in prison, a two-year suspended term, and a fine of NIS 1 million ($289,000) for accepting bribes in a separate graft case known as the “Holyland affair,” revolving around a large Jerusalem residential development that occurred when he was Jerusalem’s mayor. He’s only out now on bail pending his appeal.
A rat fight, indeed. Maybe they’ll end up as cell mates.