Submarine Scandal: David Shimron, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s relative and personal lawyer, and another close associate to the prime minister were questioned for 15 hours on Sunday at the Lahav 433 anti-corruption investigation unit as part of the police’s ongoing investigation into corruption suspicions surrounding the procurement of submarines and patrol ships for Israel’s Navy from German conglomerate ThyssenKrupp.
The two were released to their homes at the end of the day and are expected to return for questioning on Monday, when they will be further confronted with testimony by state witness Miki Ganor.
The second close associate, whose name hasn’t been cleared for publication, has been barred from leaving Israel in the next two weeks.
The PM’s associate is considered one of the only people Netanyahu trusts completely in diplomatic and political matters. In recent years, the prime minister sent him on several sensitive diplomatic missions, some of them covert. Often, these missions were kept secret even from official bodies, such as the Foreign Ministry and even the Mossad.
Police believe the investigation led the associate, who is suspected of breach of trust, to recently announce he was retiring from public life. “He knew what we were investigating,” one police official said.
During Sunday’s questioning, investigators focused on the international activity of the prime minister’s associate. Investigators asked the suspect to comment on several events he attended while abroad.
Despite the fact the associate was not paid for his work for the prime minister, police consider him a public servant to all intents and purposes.
State witness Miki Ganor, businessman who served as ThyssenKrupp’s representative in Israel, told police that Shimron, who represented Ganor, had told him of the associate—Netanyahu’s confidant on diplomatic matters—who could help ThyssenKrupp secure the submarines bid.
According to information from Ganor, the prime minister’s associate, who has business ties with Shimron, exploited his international status to aid Shimron in promoting the submarine sale deal with political officials in Germany.
However, he is not currently suspected of directly receiving money for his services.
Shimron is suspected of fraudulently obtaining benefits by influencing decision-makers to prefer ThyssenKrupp over other companies in the tender.
Shimron, who has been questioned several times before, and the second associate were also asked whether they involved or updated the prime minister in the developments concerning the deal being formulated with ThyssenKrupp. Both insisted they did not.
The suspect has yet to publicly comment on the allegations against him.
A Likud official slammed on Sunday what he called “attempts” to tie Prime Minister Netanyahu to the affair.
“Despite the attempts to incite a lynch and create a media trial whose outcome has been decided in advance—the attorney general and state attorney stress even now that Prime Minister Netanyahu is not a suspect in any way in the submarine affair. It was true, it’s still true, and it will always be true,” the Likud official said.
“The media attempt to besmirch the prime minister because some of his associates have been questioned is a futile attempt,” the official continued. “Just recently, a year after police announced it was recommending an indictment against former PMO chief of staff Gil Sheffer, the State Attorney’s Office announced the case has been closed. Who says it would be different this time? What value is there to the judicial process when it is carried out entirely in newspaper headlines and in TV studios, through unlawful and tendentious leaks?”
By Eli Senyor, Itamar Eichner, Ynet News