For those who don’t know, gazlan in Hebrew means ‘robber.’ So did he or didn’t he? Did Ehud take wads of cash from Long Island investor and rabbi, Morris “Moshe” Talansky, when the former was mayor of Jerusalem? The NY Post reports a potential bombshell story claiming that Talansky is singing to Israeli detectives as I write this:
A Long Island mogul is at the center of a sensational bribery scandal that could bring down embattled Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, The Post has learned.
Millionaire financier Morris Talansky – who runs an investment firm out of his home in Woodmere – allegedly passed money to Olmert while the politician was mayor of Jerusalem in the ’90s, sources said.
In a highly unusual move, Israeli authorities have barred the country’s media from publishing Talansky’s name – revealed now in The Post – saying it could hamper their investigation. Israeli media has referred only to the involvement of an “American businessman.”
Talansky is apparently set to sing to Israeli authorities about his alleged role in the scheme, sources said. “It looks serious, and it looks like they have a state witness” in Talansky, one source said.
Talansky – a philanthropist and political contributor to everyone from Rudy Giuliani to Bill Clinton – is in Jerusalem, where he has an apartment, preparing to head to a closed-door court hearing as early as today, sources said.
The 75-year-old was earlier questioned about the alleged scheme almost immediately after arriving in the country for Passover, and he implicated Olmert, sources have said. It was unclear what the alleged payments to Olmert were for, but sources said they involved hefty amounts of cash.
Talansky repeatedly appears – sometimes under the nickname “The Laundry Man” – in the logs of financial dealings kept by Olmert’s longtime aide, Shula Zakan, a source said.
The gag order on reporting the story in the Israeli press is a highly unusual procedure for a financial crime. This to me indicates that the case is a very serious one since similar past corruption investigations did not result in such orders.
Olmert currently has three investigations hanging over his head including a claim that he purchased a Jerusalem home at below market price and another claim that he helped a financial supporter in his attempt to buy a newly privatized Israeli bank.
All of this is slightly odd considering that Olmert is a trained lawyer. You would expect such a savvy operator to know how to stay out of trouble. But it appears the lure of the good life may have been too great.
In light of all of this, yesterday’s post about the post-Olmert Israeli political landscape becomes a little more urgent.
There are a few other tidbits online about Talansky. Samson Blinded reports that Talansky is a rabbi. The right-wing blog also laughably labels him a “Jewish traitor.” Apparently, Talansky was among a group of investors who sued an Israeli defense contractor because a spy satellite he invested in was prohibited from providing data to Hugo Chavez. Talansky is also listed as executive vice chairman of Israel’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center. He has also donated funds to Shaare Zedek. From his political donations, he largely supports Democratic candidates though he has a special fondness for Rudy Giuliani.
GIven the dearth of reporting on this, I’ve yet to see what motive Talansky might have to bribe Olmert, though the former does have many Israeli investments and seeking favor for one of them might’ve been a suitable motivation. Or Talansky might’ve just liked Olmert and wanted to help his political career financially.