German submarine affair: Israel detains 6, including Netanyahu associate

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July 10, 2017 09:14

In February, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit authorized a full-blow criminal investigation into the submarine affair.

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Israeli submarine

A dolphin-class submarine constructed by German company Howaldtswerke- Deutsche Werft for the Israel Navy. (photo credit: AMOS BEN GERSHOM, GPO)

Police detained six suspects on Monday morning on suspicion of corruption offenses in the investigation of Israel’s acquisition of three more German-made submarines and naval vessels, termed Case 3000.

“At the time of the events, some of the suspects involved were civil servants, while others worked in the private sector,” the Police’s Investigations and Intelligence Division said in a statement on Monday.

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Among the suspects are former deputy head of the National Security Council, retired Brig.-Gen. Avriel Bar-Yosef, and Miki Ganor, the Israeli representative of the German shipbuilder ThyssenKrupp. Another suspect, who has not been named by police, is a close associate of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The six people were detained on suspicion of bribery, fraud, money laundering, and tax offenses.

In court the remand of Ganor was extended by four days while there was not yet a decision to extend the remand of Bar-Yosef as of press time. The close associate of Netanyahu, whose name remains under gag order, was released to house arrest.
Netanyahu says Israel Naval submarine contract with Germany is only for strengthening security , amid corruption probe , Nov.23.16 (credit: REUTERS)

Questions over the submarine deal surfaced in November, with a Channel 10 report that Netanyahu’s personal lawyer David Shimron worked as an intermediary for Ganor.

Shimron is reportedly suspected of pushing to buy submarines worth some $1.5 billion from the German firm over the objections of the defense establishment, including then-defense minister Moshe Ya’alon.

Former Israeli Navy Commander V.-Adm.(ret.) Eliezer Marom is also said to be wanted for questioning in the case, Channel 2 reported.

However, he was not detained due to a family event.

Shimron has denied any wrongdoing in the case. Netanyahu, who is not a suspect in the case, has denied any involvement in the deal with ThyssenKrupp.

However, according to a Channel 2 report on Monday, police will summon Netanyahu for questioning and ask the premier to explain why he decided to appoint Bar-Yosef as head of the NSC in February 2016, despite suspicions of Bar-Yosef working in a conflict of interest with German businessmen. Bar-Yosef later withdrew his candidacy for NSC head.

Attorney Jack Chen, who represents Bar-Yosef, told The Jerusalem Post that “after facing an investigation by the media, Avriel Bar-Yosef was happy to finally be given the opportunity to answer any questions and refute the allegations with the relevant officials.”

In February, Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit authorized a full-blown criminal investigation into the submarine affair, stating that police had gathered enough evidence to raise suspicions “that some of those involved in the affair committed crimes of public corruption.”

Ya’alon, who has threatened “to go public” if Case 3000 does not produce an indictment, put the brakes on the planned purchase of the submarines. But after he stepped down in May 2016 as defense minister, Netanyahu renewed the negotiations with Berlin.

Ya’alon has testified to police investigators offering details about the contacts Netanyahu held with German officials regarding the acquisition of three submarines and several other warships, all of which happened without the knowledge of the security establishment.

On Monday, Education Minister Naftali Bennett – who is a frequent critic of the prime minister – said that “to the best of my understanding and knowledge, what drove the cabinet and prime minister was only security.”

Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid offered a rebuke of the premier, stating that the sub deal was “not just corruption but [did] harm to the security of the state.”

Meanwhile, Zionist Union MK Erel Margalit – who traveled to Germany to collect information on the submarine deal and gave testimony to police in the investigation last month – said “the circle of the investigation is beginning to close around Netanyahu.”

ThyssenKrupp, which sold the Israel Navy its newest Dolphin-class submarines, has been accused of bribing officials around the world to promote sales of its submarines.

In June, the German magazine Der Spiegel reported that the German National Security Council approved the purchase of the three submarines by Israel. However, the contract reportedly includes a clause giving Germany the right to cancel the deal if any improprieties or criminal offenses are proven as a result of the current police investigation.

Gil Hoffman and Anna Ahronheim contributed to this report.


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