- According to an advance permit that was given, in writing, the [Jerusalem] municipality consented to the dismantling and reassembling of the building, and even to increase the built-up area around Olmert’s home.
In this manner they succeeded in gaining an advantage and a profit of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Alumot MG Engineering Corporation Ltd and Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert used insider information that they had obtained when they conducted the transaction at 8 Cremiux [St.] in Jerusalem, in addition to using connections to advance building permits in the municipality’s institutions.
This comes into especially sharp focus now, in light of Alumot’s position, as it was presented to Nfc, the response by Olmert, and information that was brought to our attention, as will be detailed below. As we reported here, Olmert received a bribe from Alumot in the amount of hundreds of thousands of dollars, and his name and standing were used to receive the building permits, both from the Preservation Commission, and from the Local Planning Committee.
The Final obstacle they face now is the Appeals Committee (that is connected with the District Planning Committee). Olmert and Alumot totally denied the claims against them, and in the course of their attempt to ward off the claims of bribery and to downplay the severity of the suspicion that use was made of Olmert’s name, they revealed the following:
Olmert argued that even before they signed the contract between them (October 2004), Alumot had received permission in principle, according to which the municipality would allow the demolition and rebuilding of the structure, that is a preserved building;
Alumot claims in a letter to Nfc from March 5, 2006, copies of which were also given to the State Comptroller and to the Attorney General: “Even before the signing of the contract with the Olmerts, and unconnected to their purchase of the apartment – for in light of the comprehensive professional opinions submitted to it, it was convinced that the building could be preserved by its dismantling and reassembly, in accordance with the strict conditions established for this.” [Alumot gave Nfc its version in a letter in which it demands an apology and financial compensation in the amount of a million dollars, claiming that my publication on the matter constitutes libel. Its demand is totally rejected.]
It was learned that this critical information – if it was indeed given to Alumot, and from it to Olmert – was not given to the tenants/owners of the building, and before that was not given to other entrepreneurs who were in contact with the municipality and examined the possibilities of receiving a permit to demolish and rebuild the structure. Deborah Ganani-Elad, from whom Alumot purchased about a third of the building that is to be preserved, told us in response: “I knew nothing. They didn’t tell me anything. My lawyer, as well, did not know.” Ganani sold her portion (161 sq. m., and building rights) for $1,100,000, and if the municipality’s position had been known to her, she could have received a higher sum.
This means that Olmert and Alumot used insider information that they received from senior official individuals within the municipality in order to purchase the parts of the property from the various residents, and thereby make very high profits in the amount of hundreds of thousands of dollars. This is especially serious, since the Jerusalem Municipality had previously refused to allow others to make any change at the site, had forbidden residents to make any actual changes and/or additions, and had even given Alumot the permission, and in writing, even though this was not within its authority [changing the status of a building to be preserved, that in fact pertains to changing the Urban Building Plan, is under the sole authority of the District Planning Commission].
It was learned that the Director of the City Planning Branch, the architect Osnat Post, who was the deputy of Uri Shitrit, who was recently added by Olmert to the Kadima list for the 17th Knesset, directly dealt with granting the permit to Alumot, with the support of Shitrit.
It almost goes without saying that the Jerusalem Municipality, that gave this important information to Alumot, and from it to Olmert, had not previously done the minimum required by the law: to inform the public, by mandatory advertisements in the media, of the change in its position and the permit that it was willing to grant to anyone who would request to make changes at Cremieux 8, namely: dismantling and rebuilding, while utilizing the building rights given in the area. It is indisputable that if this had been announced in public, as the law requires, many more entrepreneurs would have contended for the purchase of the rights to the property, and the residents who had waited and who had been “stuck” for decades would have been able to receive a higher price for the property that they possessed.
The importance of the prior information is attested by the following fact: the contractor and Olmert took determined action to purchase the property. In this transaction Olmert purchased one third of the building (which is of three stories). Olmert paid the contractor, in advance, the entire sum set for the apartment that he purchased: $1,200,000. This sum was used, among other things, to finance the additional purchases, that enabled the entrepreneur and the purchaser (Olmert) to make huge immediate profits in the amount of hundreds of thousands of dollars, and within a very short period of time.