Attorney Uri Messer, former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's ex-partner and confidant, won’t be indicted in the Investment Center and Talansky affairs, the Jerusalem District Prosecutor's Office informed Messer's representative on Thursday. The two affairs are included in a serious indictment filed against Olmert and his former bureau chief Shula Zaken.
The decision was made by the Jerusalem district prosecutor, on behalf of the state prosecutor and his deputy, following weeks of deliberations on the matter.
The Prosecutor's Office said in a statement that "following an investigation, we have found that Mr. Olmert acted in a serious conflict of interests in his ties with Attorney Messer and in his wrongful involvement in matters concerning Attorney Messer's clients, but despite the heavy suspicions, sufficient evidence has not been found to establish the suspicion of an early criminal connection created between the two or that Mr. Olmert's decisions were veered away from the norm."
The State explained that one of the reasons for deciding not to press charges against Messer was the fact that he is not a public figure, and therefore the standards are different and he cannot be charged with offenses of fraud and breach of trust, which were included in the indictment against Olmert and Zaken. He could be charged with fraud, but both Olmert and Zaken were not charged with this offense.
Messer was first questioned when the Talansky affair broke out, according to report he framed Olmert in his testimony. According to the indictment filed against Olmert and Zaken, Messer hid funds transferred to the former minister in a safe, including hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash. He was also suspected of using his ties with Olmert to grant benefits to his private customers.
The Investment Center affair dates back to 2002 during Olmert's term as industry and trade minister. He is believed to have used the authority of his office – in a stark conflict of interest – in order to advance a real estate deal headed by Messer.
"The affinities, joint interests and connection between Olmert and Messer, which were unknown to those around them, made him committed to Messer," said an Attorney General's Office statement on the case.
"(Olmert) was bound to recuse himself of any matter involving Messer and his clients," but instead, he made sure to be well versed in their business, "despite a clear conflict of interest."
Ronen Medzini contributed to this report