Israel's Submarine Scandal: Netanyahu Confidant David Shimron Revealed as Suspect Detained in Graft Probe

Israel Police are looking into allegations that Shimron lobbied defense officials on behalf of ThyssenKrupp for a multimillion dollar submarine sale to Israel

Attorney David Shimron on July 11, 2017.
Moti Milrod

The identity of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's associate who was detained as a suspect in the submarine graft case has been revealed as the prime minister's personal lawyer, David Shimron.

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Deals for Germany to sell Israel three submarines and naval boats are the focus of two police investigations into possible wrongdoing involving Shimron, a former Israeli admiral, a former high-ranking Israeli defense official and German shipbuilder ThyssenKrupp's representative in Israel.

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Shimron, who was interrogated for a third time on Wednesday morning and is currently under house arrest, is also the attorney for businessman Michael Ganor, ThyssenKrupp's local representative. Ganor was arrested on Monday on suspicion of bribery, money laundering, fraud and conspiracy. Police has not yet publicly said what Shimron is suspected of.

The police are looking into allegations that Shimron, who is also the prime minister's  cousin, lobbied defense officials on behalf of ThyssenKrupp for a multimillion dollar submarine sale to Israel. Netanyahu himself has not so far been considered a suspect in the affair, but he is expected to be called to testify.

With regard to Shimron’s house arrestJudge Einat Ron, the president of the Central District Magistrate's Court, said Tuesday that the evidence gathered suggests that Shimron is only linked to some of the matters under investigation, but she added that it indicates a reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing by Shimron.

"Despite a difficult situation, from a personal and a professional standpoint, attorney David Shimron is very much relieved that he is finally being given an opportunity to present his full side to law enforcement agencies," Shimron's attorney, Amit Hadad, said on his behalf. "Shimron was acting in accordance with the law. He fully cooperated with his interrogators and is certain that the legal authorities will reach the same conclusion."

In another development in the case, which has been dubbed Case 3000, the former commander of the Israel Navy, Maj. Gen. (res.) Eliezer Marom, has also been questioned on suspicion of bribe-taking. The police are looking into whether Marom is behind bank accounts in Cyprus to which money was transferred that officials suspect may have been used to pay bribes. Law enforcement officials are also seeking to find out whether Marom, who is now chairman of the Israel Airports Authority, acted to replace the previous representative in Israel for ThyssenKrupp with Ganor.

According to reports on Channel 10 and in Ma’ariv, the former representative, Yeshayahu Barkat, claimed that when Marom was navy chief, he told the head of ThyssenKrupp, who was visiting Israel, that he would not meet with him in Barkat’s presence. Marom, along with former IDF chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi, opposed the purchase of a sixth submarine for the navy.

Marom’s attorney, Zion Amir, said: “Maj. Gen. Eli Marom is pleased that we have finally reached the stage of an open investigation, and that he is being given the opportunity to answer the questions presented to him. We have no doubt that the police investigation will unequivocally prove his innocence and the fact that his conduct has been flawless.”

Another person who was detained on Monday is Avriel Bar-Yosef, a former deputy national security adviser who played a key role in formulating the professional opinion supporting the deal. Bar-Yosef is suspected of bribery, money laundering, breach of trust and conspiracy to commit a crime. Ganor And Bar-Yosef will be again brought in front a judge on Thursday.