Israeli Navy Dolphin-class submarine 390 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS/Handout)
The Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court has extended the remands of Miki Ganor and Avriel Bar-Yosef, two key suspects in the corruption investigation into contracts to acquire three more German-made submarines and other ships, termed Case 3000.
Ganor, who is the Israel representative of the German shipbuilder ThyssenKrupp that was contracted to supply Israel with the vessels, is suspected of fraud, money laundering, and conspiracy to commit a crime.
Retired Brig.-Gen. Bar-Yosef, a former deputy head of the National Security Council who played an important role in formulating an opinion in favor of acquiring the submarines, is suspected of fraud, breach of trust, money laundering, bribery, and conspiracy to commit a crime.
Their remands were extended on Thursday until Monday.
Another key suspect, David Shimron, who is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s personal lawyer and distant relative, was released to house arrest on Monday and questioned a third time on Thursday.
Ronen Shemer who works with Ganor, had his remand extended for five days in the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday.
Questions over the submarine deal surfaced in November, with a Channel 10 report that Shimron worked as an intermediary for Ganor. Shimron is reportedly suspected of pushing for Israel 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.
In court on Thursday, Judge Einat Ron said that “most of the material [collected by police] in this affair is not known to the media” and that there have been “quite a few developments” in the investigation of Bar-Yosef and others.
Attorney Jack Chen, who represents Bar-Yosef, told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday that his client is cooperating with police and denies the allegations against him. Chen declined to comment on any allegations.
In a statement sent to the Post, attorney Nati Simchony, who represents Ganor, said his client is “convinced that no offense has been committed with regard to the German shipyard and that no bribes or benefits were provided by him.”
A lawyer for Shimron told Channel 2 Shimron is not suspected of bribery and that in a few days more information will be released that supports his client’s claims.
Police also detained former OC Navy V.-Adm. (res.) Eliezer Marom on Tuesday. Marom, who has been chairman of the Israel Airports Authority since 2015, was questioned as a suspect and released to house arrest that night.
Marom is suspected of receiving bribe money from Ganor, Channel 2 reported. Marom commanded the navy from 2007 to 2011.
Shimron has previously denied any wrongdoing in the case. Netanyahu, who is not a suspect in the case, has denied any involvement or impropriety in the deal with ThyssenKrupp.
On Thursday, in a meeting with his closest supporters in the Likud faction, the prime minister shot back at accusations from opposition MKs and others that he was involved in the Submarine Affair and a separate affair related to the Bezeq telecom company.
“Behind the mud-slinging there are no facts, the opposite is true,” Netanyahu said.
The submarines were purchased based on the opinion that they are necessary to protect the nation’s natural gas fields in the Mediterranean.
In February, Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit authorized a fullblown criminal investigation into the Submarine Affair, saying that police had gathered enough evidence to raise suspicions “that some of those involved in the affair committed crimes of public corruption.”
In June, Der Spiegel reported that the German National Security Council approved the purchase of the three submarines by Israel, subsidized by Berlin. However, the contract reportedly includes a clause giving Berlin the right to cancel the deal if any improprieties or criminal offenses are proven as a result of the current police investigation.Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.