A dolphin-class submarine constructed by German company Howaldtswerke- Deutsche Werft for the Israel Navy.
(photo credit: AMOS BEN GERSHOM, GPO)
The German government may decide to cancel Israel’s purchase of submarines from the Thyssen- Krupp company due to a criminal investigation in Israel, Channel 10 reported on Sunday from the firm’s headquarters in Essen.
ThyssenKrupp is conducting its own internal probe into whether its sales representative in Israel, Miki Ganor, violated the company’s policy by subcontracting to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s lawyer and confidant David Shimron.
“We will investigate to find the facts because the facts are what count,” said company spokesman Donatus Kaufmann. “We didn’t hear from our sales representative Mr. Ganor that he subcontracted. If there has been a violation of our company policies, we would immediately stop and sanction him.”
Kaufmann said the company was eagerly awaiting the findings of an inquiry requested on Wednesday by Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit.
Another ThyssenKrupp official, Martin Murphy, confirmed Israeli reports that the company was compelled to fire its longtime representative and replace him with Ganor.
Former Israel Navy head V.-Adm. (res.) Eliezer Marom and embattled former National Security Council chairman Avriel Bar-Yosef threatened Thyssenkrupp seven years ago, that if it did not fire Brig.-Gen. (res.) Shaike Bareket and replace him with Ganor, Israel would not purchase more submarines from the company.
ThyssenKrupp officials said Ganor has made more than €10 million representing the company since then.
Top lawyer Jacob Weinroth tried to put to rest any allegations in the submarine affair against Netanyahu and Shimron, noting that Shimron represented the German company, but not with regard to the submarines.
In an interview with Channel 2 News on Saturday night, Weinroth said Shimron had represented Thyssenkrupp years before the submarine deal became an issue, trying to show that the firm brought him in without the deal in mind.
Mandelblit said on Thursday that he decided to open a preliminary investigation, though not yet a criminal probe, into the submarine affair after receiving new information.
The probe is seen by some as sidelining Shimron and potentially harming Netanyahu politically, though Mandelblit said that “in Israel, criminal investigations are not opened due to baseless speculation that someone committed a crime.”
Opposition lawmakers expressed concern over the weekend that the submarine probe would be forgotten because it has been overshadowed by the fires that have struck the country. To that end, Zionist Union MK Stav Shaffir will hold a hearing on conflicts of interest, including Shimron’s, at her Knesset Committee on Transparency on Monday.
“The fact that the prime minister’s lawyer benefits financially from representing individuals and groups that work on issues that are the responsibility of Netanyahu creates a harsh conflict of interest,” Yesh Atid MK Ofer Shelah said. “This behavior is the reason why the public has lost faith in politics and politicians.”
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