Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Israel Police recommend charging Netanyahu associate with bribery in ‘Submarine Affair’


Israel Police has recommended charging Miki Ganor, an associate of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with bribery for his role in Case 3000, often known as the “Submarine Affair”.

The case refers to a series of allegations against close associates of Netanyahu, who it is claimed lobbied Israeli defence officials to sign deals with German shipbuilding firm ThyssenKrupp. The multi-billion-shekel deals, many of which date back to 2009, would have seen Israel purchase naval vessels and submarines from the German firm. Netanyahu’s associates, however, are suspected of “skimming” millions of shekels off the top of the deals for their personal profit.

One of these associates is Miki Ganor, a former sales representative of ThyssenKrupp who turned state witness in 2017. Under the agreement, Ganor would testify for the prosecution in exchange for only having to serve one year in prison and pay a ten million shekel ($2.7 million) fine for his role in facilitating the deals.

However, in a shock move in March, Ganor presented himself to the police and asked to change his previous statement, despite standing by it during 50 meetings over the course of the investigation. He was subsequently arrested for “obstructing an investigation with false information”, while Israel’s State Prosecutor threatened to rescind his partial immunity.

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Having had his immunity rescinded, the Israel Police’s Lahav 433 anti-fraud unit today recommended that prosecutors indict Ganor on five counts of bribery and one count of receiving an illicit gift, in addition to six counts of money laundering, the Times of Israel reported, citing Hebrew-language daily Yedioth Ahronoth.

The Israeli daily added that “despite the recent developments, all the recommendations against the other suspects in the case have remained unchanged”. One of these other suspects include Netanyahu’s cousin David Shimron, who represented Ganor in the deals and allegedly promised to use his influence over the prime minister to secure the sales, in return for a “hefty cut” of the money exchanged.

Other close associates of Netanyahu have also been implicated in the affair: another of his cousins, Nathan Milikowsky; his former bureau chief David Sharan; his former pick for National Security Adviser Avriel Bar-Yosef; former head of the Israeli Navy Eliezer Marom; and former government minister Eliezer Sandberg.

Although Netanyahu was previously only being interviewed as a witness in the case, new details emerged in March which prompted Israel’s state prosecution to consider opening a corruption investigation against him. This came after the State Comptroller’s Office found that Netanyahu and Milikowsky were shareholders in Texas-based steel factory SeaDrift, which was later absorbed into GrafTech International, a long-time supplier of ThyssenKrupp.

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Netanyahu allegedly did not disclose his shareholdings in GrafTech, and though he claims he sold his shares to Milikowsky after he was elected prime minister in 2009, the Comptroller’s Office said he had a “clear conflict of interest” at the time the sale was made. It is also alleged that Netanyahu bought the shares for sub-market value, allowing him to make a four-fold profit on the sale of his stake in the company.

If an investigation is launched, this will be the fourth corruption investigation against the prime minister. Israel’s Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit announced in February that Netanyahu will stand trial for his role in three other cases – dubbed Case 10002000 and 4000 respectively – for fraud, bribery and breach of trust.

He is scheduled to appear in court on 2 and 3 October.


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