Hasson. Key player
Photo: Ofer Amram
Dachner. Served as intermediary
Photo: Zvika Tischler
Lupolianski. Arrested for five days
Photo: Avi Mualam

Holyland bribes estimated at $15 million

New investigation details reveal company paid hush money to project opponents, purchased apartments as part of payoff

Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will return to Israel Wednesday night following the police's request to question him on his possible involvement in the Holyland case. Meanwhile, Ynet uncovered new details in what is considered by authorities as the biggest corruption affair in the country's history.


The police suspect the total amount of funds transferred from the project initiators to Shmuel Dachner, who mediated between the different parties involved, is some $15 million (NIS 55 million).


Following the arrest of former Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski, the police are trying to figure out what was done with the huge amount of money handed to Dachner. National Fraud Investigations Unit detectives are focusing on breaking down Holyland's accountant Eliyahu Hasson, so that he would frame the other actors involved. The investigators believe Hasson is possibly the key player in the entire investigation.


According to the investigators' suspicion, Hasson used to transfer the payoff funds to different sources under the guise of business transactions.


During the investigation, Hasson was presented with numerous receipts and funds transfer forms totaling at some $15 million, which was transferred from the company to Dachner and from him to several other sources. The police suspect these funds were used as bribes in order to advance the project.


In addition, investigators discovered that Holyland used different methods to "silence" those opposed to the project. According to the company's books, instead of the bribe payment, the company purchased apartments that were given to objectors of the project, and were purchased at an exorbitant price that partially constituted the payoff.


As of now, Hasson continues to claim that he did not know where the funds were transferred to. According to Hasson, he did his work as the company's accountant, but the investigators say there is no way he was unaware where the money was being transferred to, or that it was dirty money.


An aide close to Hasson said the police promised him various benefits in exchange for his cooperation and the incrimination of other suspects. "My client is being held in detention for the sole purpose of breaking him down to have him testify against others," his attorney, Gil Rubenstein said.


The lawyer added, "Hasson constantly explained that he had nothing to do with the affair, but apparently this did not satisfy the detectives."


Parallel to Hasson's interrogation, the police arrested another Jerusalem Municipality official. The official, who served in the past as deputy mayor, was questioned at the Fraud Investigations Unit's offices and may be brought stand a remand hearing on Thursday.


Regarding Lupolianski's arrest and interrogation, police sources said he is one of the main figures in the bribery affair. "Thanks to Lupolianski and the decisions that were made by the committees in which he sat, the entrepreneurs raked in hundreds of millions of shekels."


Lupolianski, who was Olmert's deputy at the time when the latter served as Jerusalem mayor, said on Wednesday after his arrest, "It is the mayor who decides."


פרסום ראשון: 04.15.10, 00:58
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