President Ezer Weizman has decided to resign and has notified Prime Minister Ehud Barak of his intention, "Globes" and "Maariv" journalist Yoav Yitzhak claimed at a press conference he held this afternoon. According to Yitzhak, Weizman is delaying his resignation announcement, so as to dissociate his decision to resign from the affair of the money he received from millionaire Edouard Saroussi, and to attribute his resignation to health reasons.
Yitzhak today exposed further details of the affair.
He claimed that Saroussi injected in the Yahad movement, of which Weizman was one of the founders, an total of $6.5 million. Some of this money vanished from the movement's cash reserve and some, amounting ot tens of thousands of dollars, was transferred to the trust account that Weizman used for private withdrawals.
Yitzhak further claims that Weizman owned a Diners Club credit card issued by Bank Leumi. The credit card was linked to the account into which Saroussi transferred the money through the trust account. According to Yitzhak, in June 1995, in the middle of the Simcha Dinitz affair, Weizman ordered the cancellation of this credit card.
Yitzhak claims that even after Weizman's election for president, he and members of his family continued to withdraw money from the trust account. In the period 1993-1995, for instance, funds equal to $65,000 were withdrawn from the trust account. According to Yitzhak, Arieh Shumer, director general of Weizman's office, received $6,300 from the trust fund, in two payments made in November 1988. Yitzhak claims that Shumer worked behind the scenes to prevent the affair from being brought to light.
Yitzhak further contends that Saroussi looked into the possibility of getting a foothold in Israel's business community. Acting on Saroussi's behalf, the late Gabi Turner looked into the possible acquisition of several businesses.
Referring to the part played by Weizman's lawyer, Hanina Brandes, Yitzhak said that Brandes was trusted both Saroussi and Weizman, and served as the liaison man between them. Brandes is no less responsible than Weizman for the illegal acts, Yitzhak claims.
It has been learnt that the law firm in which Brandes is one of two senior partners is considering filing a complaint with the police against the firm's former accountant, who was dismissed from his job. The complaint will be filed on suspicion that the accountant has taken the file containing documents relating to the affair. The documents have disappeared from the firm.
By web-posting time, no reaction has been received from Brandes' office.
Weizman's lawyer Yaakov Weinroth told "Globes" in response to Yitzhak's allegations, that the State Attorney will receive all the relevant material - documents, figures, interpretation, and all that is necessary. According to Weinroth, this will take a while due to the fact that the file has disappeared from Adv. Hanina Brandes's office.
Weinroth added that the State Attorney will receive documents reconstructing all the banking transactions. The documents will be issued by the banks, in absence of the document file.
Published by Israel's Business Arena January 4, 2000