Israel Indicts Officials in Multimillion Dollar Submarine Deal, Drops Case Against Netanyahu Associates

ThyssenKrupp representative charged with bribery and money laundering, while former treasury and National Security Council executives indicted for accepting bribes

Netael Bandel
Netael Bandel
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Benjamin Netanyahu climbs out after a visit inside the Rahav, the fifth submarine in the fleet, after it arrived in Haifa port January 12, 2016
Benjamin Netanyahu climbs out after a visit inside the Rahav, the fifth submarine in the fleet, after it arrived in Haifa port January 12, 2016Credit: REUTERS/Baz Ratner
Netael Bandel
Netael Bandel

Israel’s district attorney for taxation and economics indicted on Monday several former officials and executives in the so-called submarine affair, a multimillion dollar submarine deal with German shipbuilder ThyssenKrupp, which police looked into possible wrongdoing involving the shipbuilder's local representative.

The indictment states that Thyssenkrupp had paid its representative about ten million euros as a commission for deals signed between Israel and ThyssenKrupp. The representative is charged with violating the money laundering law as well as tax evasions.

Those indicted include Michael Ganor, who served as a representative for the German conglomerate, ThyssenKrupp, in Israel; Avriel Bar-Yosef, the former deputy director of the National Security Council; David Sharan, former director of the Prime Minister’s Office; Eliezer Zandberg, former chairman of Keren Hayesod; businessman Shai Brosh, a former navy commando head; political adviser Rami Taib and communications advisor Tzachi Lieber.

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The prosecution also closed cases against a few individuals after accepting their explanations under questioning. They include former navy commander Eliezer Meaom and attorney David Shimron, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s personal lawyer.

Two years ago, Ganor retracted his previous confessions that he had given a bribe to senior officials in the security establishment and the government so that they would approve and advance the deal to acquire submarines from ThyssenKrupp. His deal to be state’s witness was consequently canceled.

According to the indictment, Bar-Yosef sought in 2009 to advance the appointment of Ganor, then a real estate businessman whom he had known from their service in the navy, as ThyssenKrupp’s representative in Israel. For years, Israel bought sailing vessels from the company for its naval operations. Bar-Yosef spoke with Marom, commander of the navy at the time, in order to advocate Ganor’s appointment. Ganor and Bar-Yosef agreed that when Ganor would receive commissions for subsequent deals between Israel and ThyssenKrupp, Ganor would pay Bar-Yosef a kickback. Ganor was made the conglomerate’s Israel representative in October 2009. Before that, and particularly after his appointment, he promoted shipping deals between Israel and ThyssenKrupp with the help of the other indicted suspects.

Bar-Yosef was allegedly a partner in advancing these deals, while hiding their relationship from his superiors and in line with the deal to receive kickbacks. Ganor paid 420,000 shekels ($129,000) in bribes to Brosh for Bar-Yosef’s work, according to the indictment. The payments were disguised through fake accounts as consulting fees.

David Sheran, who a senior official in the Finance Ministry, then secretary of the Europe-Asia Pipeline Co. and eventually bureau chief of the Prime Minister’s Office, is accused of using his positions to help Ganor with the awareness that he, too, would receive kickbacks. Ganor paid him around 130,000 shekels through two intermediaries, Lieber and Taib, on three separate occasions between 2013 and 2016. Zandberg, who was the chairman of Keren Hayesod, an official fundraising organization for Israel, between 2010 and 2018, is accused of using his position to help Ganor advance ship deals, receiving a total of 103,000 shekels from him on seven different occasions. The bribes were disguised through fake accounts as consulting fees.

Ganor was charged with multiple bribe offenses, money laundering and various tax offense. Bar-Yosef will also face charges of multiple bribe offenses as well as fraud and breach of trust. Brosh faces charges of requesting a bribe, receiving a bribe as part of a group, money laundering and accessory to a tax offense. Sharan is indicted for taking a bribe, breach of trust, money laundering and violating the political parties’ law. Zandberg is charged with taking a bribe, money laundering, and fraud, breach of trust and tax offenses. Taib and Lieber are both charged with brokering a bribe deal, money laundering and accessory to tax offenses. In addition, four companies owned by Ganor have been charged with tax offenses.

Attorneys Amit Haddad and Noa Milstein of the law firm Hadad Roth Shenhar and Co., who represent Shimron, said “We are glad and welcome the prosecution’s decision to accept our claims, and to remove the last grain of doubt against attorney Shimron. Everybody knows today what we’ve known for years – attorney Shimron didn’t commit any offense, and he is spotless.”

Bar-Yosef’s attorneys, Jack Hen, Orna Pinto-Gafson and Sharon Yanovich, also commented on the matter, saying “It is regretful that the prosecution decide to try Mr. Zandbeg. We are convinced that Mr. Zandberg’s actions were not tainted, and that he will be acquitted. It is unfortunate he wasn’t spared this legal torture.”

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