Docs Reveal Business Dealings by Key Figures in Corruption Affair Involving Netanyahu Associates

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Michael Ganor in court.
Michael Ganor in court.Credit: Emil Salman

Documents submitted by David Shimron – a close associate of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his personal attorney – reveal that Shimron had much wider business dealings than previously known with Michael Ganor, a central figure in Case 3000.

Shimron submitted the documents to investigators in order to prove that he only acted as Ganor’s lawyer, not his business partner, in the state’s $1.5 billion purchase of submarines and patrol boats from German industrial group ThyssenKrupp. The transactions are at the heart of an alleged massive bribery scheme known as 3000. The documents helped get the main accusations against Shimron dropped.

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However, the documents revealed that Shimron and Ganor, who was the German company’s Israel representative, advanced many projects in the fields of natural gas, solar power, petrochemicals and electric power. All involved great government involvement, including close regulatory oversight and Israel’s foreign relations.

One of the more interesting ventures is described in Shimron’s billing hours dated May 24, 2012 for what is called “Meeting on Cyprus + pipeline.” It is attached to other documents connected with the island nation dealing with the “cable” or the “Cyprus-Greece project.” They show that Ganor tried to get a foothold in a project known today as the Eastern Mediterranean pipeline to deliver Israeli and Cypriot natural gas to Europe, which Netanyahu has been actively promoting.

In a deal connected with the EastMed pipeline, Israel, Cyprus and Greece last week signed a preliminary agreement for a EuroAsia Interconnector, a 1,200-kilometer (745-mile) undersea power cable linking their electricity grids.

The EuroAsia Interconnector won’t be economically feasible without government aid and many Energy Ministry officials have doubts about its necessity. But the Netanyahu government has pushed the plan forward.

In a statement, the office of Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said he has never spoken to any of the entrepreneurs in the cable project or their representatives. He described it as part of the Israeli government’s target for generating 30% of the country’s power by renewables by 2030.

David Shimron, a close associate of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his personal attorney.Credit: Moti Milrod

Nevertheless, Ganor is suspected of paying bribes to Steinitz to associates, among them David Sharan, to advance the submarine deal.

TheMarker has learned that Ganor and Shimron continued to advance the Cyprus project at least until 2017, when the Case 3000 investigation first surfaced. Since then, Ganor’s assets have been frozen and his business has collapsed, so any participation by him in the EuroAsia Interconnector is now unlikely.

Shimron also worked with Ganor to bid on a Cypriot government contract to develop a terminal for receiving and storing natural gas being pumped from the island’s Aphrodite field, TheMarker has learned. The Netanyahu government has influence over Aphrodite, which is partly owned by Israel’s Delek Group and the American company Chevron, which controls Israel’s Leviathan and Tamar fields.

Shimron also took part in a venture to build a petrochemicals plant in Cyprus. The two also sought to bid, with backing from ThyssenKrupp, in 2015 for a related project in Israel to move an ammonia plant in Haifa to Mishor Rotem in the Negev. The government tender failed to draw any bids due to its difficult terms.

Shimron’s billing hours also show that Ganor sought to get a foothold in the Israeli electric-power sector. They document that Ganor met several times with Ori Edelsburg, a major shareholder in the private power company Dorad. A spokesman for Edelsburg said Ganor and Shimron had proposed developing a power station adjacent to the projected ammonia plant in Mishor Rotem but that talks ended when Edelsburg concluded the venture wasn’t financially feasible.

Ganor and Shimron also explored possibilities in solar energy, evidenced by Ganor’s billing records that show categories for Flagsol, a German builder of photovoltaic facilities, and its parent company Ferrostaal.

The documents show that Shimron and Ganor held several meetings with Orit Farkash-Hacohen, who was chairwoman of the Electricity Authority at the time and a senior regulator that entrepreneurs with no background in the industry would ordinarily have easy access to. Farkash-Hacohen said she didn’t recall the meetings.

Police investigators dedicated a lot of time to uncovering the business ties between Ganor and Shimron and establish whether Shimron was a business partner or simply Ganor’s legal representative. Among other issues, the work Shimron did in connection with the ammonia plant raised investigators’ suspicions because Shimron’s office didn’t bill Ganor for all the hours it worked on the project because the two had agreed that the lawyer would get a 20% stake in it.

In a written response, Ganor’s attorneys Boaz Ben Zur, Uri Korb and Meir Ehrenfeld said: “Citing the names of Miki Ganor and the (E.S. Shimron, I. Molho, Persky & Co. law) firm in connection with business ventures that have been investigated and found to be unblemished aims to generate headlines out of nothing.

“The allegations are based on materials obtained illegally and involve an investigation whose principal contents are confidential. The law enforcement authorities have no claim against Ganor or Shimron in the matters cited in this article. Any attempt to present things in a different light is wrong and defamatory.”

Amit Hadad, who represents Shimron, said: “Shimron served as Ganor’s legal adviser for several years. Because of his expertise in a wide range of areas, he advised Ganor, as he did a number of other clients, in connection with big and wide-ranging business ventures as clients required.

“Shimron believes he is barred from providing details of clients’ affairs to the media. All of Shimron’s actions for Ganor, as it was for his other clients, were done lawfully. He did not violate any rules and did not deviate from what is customary in his advice and legal practice.”

The Prime Minister’s Office declined to comment.

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