Submarines Scandal: According to a report published Monday in the leading German business newspaper Handelsblatt, the prosecutor in the city of Bochum has initiated a preliminary investigation into the billion dollar deal in suspected bribery. The opening of the procedure led to an Israeli request for legal aid.
The report defines the latest “explosive” development for the Berlin government, which participates in about a third of the cost of the submarines as part of what is known as the “historic debt” to Israel. The prosecutor in Bochum is an expert in investigations of economic corruption.
The submarines affair (or “Case 3000”) is a comprehensive name for a series of purchase deals for the navy over the last decade, suspected of bribing senior members of the top security-political echelons. These deals include the purchase of a sixth submarine from the German company ThyssenKrupp, the intention to order three additional submarines from the Germans, and the acquisition of four missile boats to protect Israel’s economic waters and gas rigs.
The Israeli police had spent two years investigating allegations of corruption in connection with those deals. Last November, the police announced that there was an evidentiary basis for indictments against six of those involved in the affair – a close associate of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: David Shomron, former deputy head of the National Security Council Brigadier General (res.) Avriel Bar Yosef; Former Navy Commander, Major General Eliezer (Cheney) Marom; Former Minister and Chairman of Keren Hayesod, Modi Zandberg, former Chief of Staff of the Prime Minister’s Bureau, David Sharan, Brigadier General (Res.) Shaike Brosh.
The person who was supposed to be the state witness, Miki Ganor – a representative of ThyssenKrupp who allegedly bribed Israeli officials – surprised last week by announcing that he was retracting his initial version. Ganor, who is still under arrest and has once again become the central suspect, claims that he has only given consulting money, not bribes.
At the center of the new allegations is the company Sea Drift, which has since been acquired by Graftech. Customers of this subcontractor include Thyssen-Krupp, the manufacturer of the submarines ordered under Netanyahu.
The head of government had bought shares of Sea Drift in his time as opposition leader and sold well one year after his re-election as head of government in 2009 for around four million euros. The Israeli investigators are now supposed to investigate the suspicion that Netanyahu could have been in a conflict of interest by owning the shares.
It should also be examined the question of why Netanyahu could sell the shares to four times the value, although Sea Drift, which belonged to his cousin, had done poorly. Netanyahu has denied the allegations. For him, these are just an instrument to torpedo his re-election.