Businessman With Ties to Netanyahu's Lawyer Turns State Witness in Israeli Submarine Scandal

Michael Ganor will serve one year in prison and be fined $2.8 million in return for his testimony that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denies will touch on him

Michael Ganor at the Petah Tikva Magistrate's Court, July 21, 2017.
Tomer Appelbaum

Michael Ganor, an Israeli representative of German shipbuilder ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems, has signed a deal with state prosecutors to turn state’s witness in the submarine-purchase scandal that is plaguing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Ganor, thought to be at the heart of the affair, will serve one year in prison and be fined 10 million shekels ($2.8 million) in return for his testimony.

On Friday, Ganor was brought before the Petah Tikva Magistrate’s Court for the fifth time to extend his detention, this time for another 24 hours, so that the details of the agreement could be finalized.

The deal with Ganor is expected to expose new information on corruption in the military and government ministries involving large Israeli arms deals in recent years.

The state’s witness agreement includes detention in a police facility for two weeks with no access to communications save for a television. Ganor will be allowed visits from his family and lawyers, with the police’s approval.

Michael Ganor, standing center, upon the signing of a submarine deal with Germany.

Ganor is also forbidden to leave Israel for the next 90 days and may not contact anyone involved in the case for 60 days. He will have to post a 500,000-shekel bond.

A week ago, Ganor’s lawyer Natan Simchony resigned from the case because he objected to the state’s witness deal then under discussion.

Ganor was suspected of money laundering, bribery, conspiracy and fraud. According to Channel 10, the police suspect Ganor gave money to government officials and paid a large sum in order to be named ThyssenKrupp’s representative. The German company’s own investigation has raised a number of questions about Ganor’s appointment without approval from the appropriate Israeli authorities.

Netanyahu, meanwhile, has shared a lawyer with Ganor, David Shimron, who is currently under house arrest.

Last week Netanyahu told Channel 20, referring to Ganor, Shimron and Communications Ministry Director-General Shlomo Filber in a separate investigation: “I know them to be honest people, people with values, and I’m certain, without any doubts, that nothing will stick to them – I’m sure of that. A person is questioned, that doesn’t mean he’s guilty. Secondly, there is no connection between these things and me. They are saying that as well.”