Alexander Tessler bought a fountain pen worth $1,750 for Olmert – before that Olmert had acted on his behalf to advance his business deals in the Princess Hotel and took advantage of his position – Olmert: “This never happened”

Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert acted to advance the personal business deals of his personal friend the businessman Alexander Tessler, with a conflict of interest. The two have a close personal relationship. About half a year ago Tessler even bought an expensive birthday present for Olmert – a fountain pen. Max Smori, Tessler’s senior representative, stated that the pen cost $1,750 in Israel. Olmert is known in Israel as a fountain pen collector, and therefore it was this gift that was purchased. The law forbids government ministers to accept gifts, with the exception of modest presents without any appreciable monetary value. At the time that he received the gift, Olmert filled a wide range of positions, including Finance Minister, Minister of Industry, Trade, and Tourism, and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Israel Lands Authority – in all of which a government minister could aid a businessmen whom he wishes to advance, as Olmert indeed desired. Smori confirmed for Nfc that Tessler had given an expensive gift to Olmert. He mentioned that this had taken place about six months ago, and was a birthday present. He stated that Tessler, who lives in Germany, called Israel and sent an agent to buy a present for Olmert. “When Tessler buys a present, he buys an expensive one. You cannot bring a small gift.” In response to Nfc’s questions, Smori replied that the purchase of the present was meant to strengthen the ties with Olmert. “Obviously, you want good relations with him, But this does not say that this is corruption.” Together with this, Smori said that, in his estimate, the gift cost less, perhaps NIS 4000-5000. It was learned that, despite the personal ties between the two, and despite the obligation incumbent upon any public figure in general, and especially upon a government minister, to refrain from any activity that hints of a conflict of interests, Olmert did not abstain from acting to advance Tessler’s business affairs in Israel. Thus, for example, even before Tessler presented Olmert with that pen, he requested his assistance in resolving a serious problem that had arisen regarding the golf courses of the Princess Hotel in Eilat. “He requested a meeting, which was held together with the Regional Office Director, Fanny Sesporta,” Smori related/revealed, while adding that nothing came out of this, and as proof: the Israel Lands Authority demands the lands back. Olmert stated in response: “This never happened.”