German Submarine Maker Represented by Netanyahu's Lawyer Has History of Bribing Officials

ThyssenKrupp even launched an investigation into claims that employees bribed people to push submarine deals abroad; Netanyahu's lawyer board member of firm that had contacts with ThyssenKrupp.

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The Israel Navy's INS Rahav submarine.
The Israel Navy's INS Rahav submarine. Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

Germany’s ThyssenKrupp, which makes the submarines that Israel buys, has been involved in bribes of officials across the world to push the sale of its submarines, according to German news reports in 2015 and early 2016.

Also, in addition to reports that David Shimron, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s personal lawyer, works for a representative of the German company, a Haaretz investigation found Thursday he also serves as a board member in one of the representative's firms that was in contact with Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems.

Channel 10 News reported Tuesday that Netanyahu pushed for the purchase of three submarines for nearly 1.5 billion euros, despite the Israeli military’s opposition. Former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon also tried to derail the deal.

On Wednesday, the Prime Minister's Office issued a statement on behalf of the National Security Council saying that the purchase of German submarines “was done in an orderly and professional process with no outside influence and with the recommendation of all the professional bodies in the security establishment.”

Submarine corruption

Miki Ganor, the German company’s Israeli representative who Shomron represents, spoke to Haaretz but declined to discuss the report or detail his involvement. Ganor denied the report’s claims about his ties with Shimron, saying “there’s no connection between the report and reality.”

According to the report, Ganor and Shimron worked together to move a maintenance contract from a navy shipyard to Ganor’s firm. They met with Histadrut labor federation head Avi Nissenkorn, and the head of the local union that did maintenance for the navy.

Channel 10 did not highlight Ganor or Shimron’s involvement in the purchase of submarines.

German financial newspaper Handelsblatt reported in August 2015 that ThyssenKrupp launched an internal investigation into suspicions that company employees had bribed people to push submarine deals abroad. The report, which was quoted in the German press and by international news agencies, was based on thousands of pages of documents from the internal investigation, which the German paper obtained.

They included email correspondences, contracts with consultants and clients and bank statements, among other documents.

Analysis of the documents sparked questions about the modus operandi of its subsidiary, London-based Marine Force International, to promote deals in Turkey, South Korea, Pakistan and Indonesia. The German press called these deals “dubious” and “corrupt.” The report also noted that the company paid bribes to “decision makers” in Greece to promote “controversial” submarine deals.

A follow-up report in January in the German newspaper Weser Kurier was also quoted in German media. According to this report, Atlas Electronics, a company jointly owned by ThyssenKrupp and Airbus, was suspected of bribing countries to which it sold military equipment, including submarine and warship parts. The report asserted that since 2013 German authorities have conducted an investigation against the company on suspicion that it had given bribes in a project that was carried out in Greece. It was also suspected of improper management on a project in Turkey.

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