State to indict 2 top Netanyahu aides, ex-navy commander in Case 3000

Attorney-General Mandelblit and Justice Minister Ohana continue to fight over Shai Nitzan successor.

Pretty Murky - David Shimron  (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Pretty Murky - David Shimron
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
The state announced on Thursday that it will likely indict two top former aides to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a former commander of the Navy and others for bribery and a variety of crimes in Case 3000, the Submarine Affair.
The decision, made by State Attorney Shai Nitzan one week before his term ends, is subject to pre-indictment hearings.
In November 2018, the police recommended that several of Netanyahu’s top aides be indicted for a scheme to skim off the top of large deals in which Germany’s Thyssenkrupp firm was selling Israel diesel submarines capable of carrying nuclear warheads.
Netanyahu himself was not a suspect at the time, though there were later developments indicating that police are still probing Netanyahu’s potential financial connections to the affair.
The two top Netanyahu officials are David Shimron, who has served as a Netanyahu confidant and lawyer and is also his cousin, as well as David Sharan, who served as his chief of staff.
Shimron stands accused of money-laundering, while Sharan stands accused of bribery, money-laundering, breach of trust and violation of campaign financing laws.
Eliezer Marom is the former chief of the Navy accused of bribery, money-laundering and tax crimes.
Yuval Steinitz, who at various times served as finance minister and then as energy minister, has two aides, Rami Taib and Yitzhak Liber, who are accused of serving as middlemen in the bribery scheme and money-laundering and aiding in tax fraud respectively.
Steinitz himself has never been a suspect, though the prosecution statement says that former deputy national security adviser Avriel Bar Yosef acted to persuade Thyssenkrupp official Walter Freitag of his and Ganor’s usefulness by obtaining a meeting for Freitag with Steinitz.
Former minister Eliezer Zandburg is accused of bribery, money-laundering, breach of trust and tax crimes while he was running the United Israel Appeal fund. He was allegedly paid NIS 103,000 to advance the scheme between 2012 and 2016.
Miki Ganor, who at one point was the state’s witness who helped break the case open but later recanted his cooperation with the state, is accused of bribery, money-laundering, tax crimes and violating campaign finance laws.
He received NIS 10,402,971 from Thyssenkrupp for his success in advancing deals between Israel and the company regarding the submarines. However, according to the prosecution statement, a significant part of how he advanced the deals was by paying bribes to a variety of officials in Israel’s security apparatus.
Notably absent from the announcement were Bar Yosef and Netanyahu confidante Yitzhak Molcho.
It has been rumored for a long time that Molcho would not be indicted. However, the narrative presented by the state indicates that Bar Yosef was deeply involved in the bribery scheme.
In light of those facts, the state’s vague indication that “other defendants will be addressed in a separate decision” may indicate that Bar Yosef is in negotiations toward a plea deal, or that the evidence against him has run into complications.
There is no mention of Netanyahu as a suspect, though the spin-off cases from the Submarine Affair regarding the prime minister’s finances are still at an initial stage.
Still, the fact that those issues are not mentioned in the announcement could indicate that Netanyahu is fully off the hook from even the Case 3000 spin-off issues.
Prior to 2011, Israel had already bought five submarines from Thyssenkrupp. But starting in 2011, Israel pursued buying a sixth submarine. As of 2015, Israel started to pursue buying three more submarines, to bring the number to nine. All of this occurred during the time of the scheme by Ganor.
Regarding Marom, the prosecution statement said that he received NIS 557,000 in bribes from Ganor between 2014 and 2016.
Allegedly, Ganor paid Marom for furthering the scheme in his role as chief of the Navy, while trying to cover up the payments by only paying Marom after he retired from the Navy and by funneling payments through straw companies controlled by the two men.
They also forged documents as if to show Marom had provided legitimate consulting services.
Starting in 2014 and after, Ganor allegedly paid Bar Yosef NIS 420,000 for the deputy national security council adviser’s role in getting Ganor appointed to his role in 2009, as well as facilitating Ganor’s deals via the prime minister’s office and the Knesset.
The NIS 420,000 came after Ganor refused Bar Yosef’s initial demand for €1m.
To cover up the illegalities, the two forged documents alleging Bar Yosef had provided legitimate consulting services.
In addition, Bar Yosef and Ganor often used Brig.-Gen. (res.) Shai Brosh as an intermediary.
From 2013-2016, Ganor also sent payments of NIS 35,000 and NIS 58,000 to Sharan for advancing Ganor and the scheme’s interests both as chief-of-staff for Steinitz and later as chief-of-staff for Netanyahu.
The NIS 58,000 was sent to Sharan through Liber.
Ganor brought Shimron into the case to sign onto various banking documents that he wanted to avoid personally signing due to various legal issues.
Without Shimron, Ganor could not have promoted a $100 million investment of the Germany-Israel Fund in a Swiss bank. He needed to disguise his involvement in the deal that implicated a conflict of interest between him and the chairman of the fund, Atalia Rosenbaum.
Shimron signed the banking documents and was due to transfer 80% of two payments (one for $40,000 and one for $100,000) that he received from the bank to Ganor.
While Shimron did transfer most of the $40,000 to Ganor – after taking a 20% commission – he was unable to transfer most of the $100,000 to Ganor due to suspicions by some of the banks involved.
Shimron and Ganor then presented false documents to the involved banks to facilitate the funds transfer.
Ganor served as a state’s witness for an extended period, but recanted from cooperating after he realized that even as a state’s witness, most of his funds overseas had been frozen and were not being protected by Israeli police.
Senior lawyer Zion Amir rejected the charges against Marom, while senior lawyer Amit Hadad rejected the charges against Shimron.
Meanwhile, on Thursday night Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit and Acting Justice Minister Amir Ohana continued their battle over selecting a replacement for Nitzan, who concludes his term on December 15.
On Monday, Ohana tried to stake out independence for selecting the temporary replacement, naming five candidates. Ohana is restricted to a temporary replacement since the current government is transitional and lacks the authority to appoint permanent replacements.
However, shortly after Ohana issued his statement, Mandelblit made it clear that he viewed one of the five – Deputy State Attorney Shlomo Lemberger – as the clear choice.
Moreover, Mandelblit said that in the current circumstances, his “advice” to Ohana on who to appoint was essentially binding.
Just before Mandelblit’s Thursday night speech, Ohana issued a statement that two of the five candidates had dropped out, leaving Lemberger and two other senior prosecutors.
In his speech on Thursday, Mandelblit doubled down and basically told Ohana that he was happy to discuss the candidates, but that he still viewed Ohana as being bound by his advice for this particular position.