Prosecutor Drops Two-year Bribery Probe Against Businessman Samy Katsav and Israel Shipyards

The investigation examined allegations of bribery of African officials in connection with a patrol boat contract

Efrat Neuman
Efrat Neuman
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Samy Katsav
Samy Katsav in a 2010 file photo taken at Israel Military Industries in Ramat Hasharon.Credit: David Bachar

The state prosecutor has closed a bribery investigation against Samy Katsav, a veteran Israeli businessman who made his fortune in the defense industries, Katsav’s publicly traded company Gold Bond Group said on Wednesday.

The probe of allegations that bribes were paid to officials of an African government was launched two years ago against Katsav, who is chairman of the Gold Bond subsidiary Israel Shipyards. An investigation against Oded Breier, Israel Shipyards vice president, was also ended.

The allegations had revolved around a $21 million sale more than 10 years ago of two Shaldag patrol boats to the Nigerian navy. Amit Sadeh, a go-between, was paid a fee equivalent to 7% of the contract, part of which investigators suspected was used to pay bribes.

“The Justice Ministry and Tel Aviv District Attorney (Taxation and Economics) announced in writing that the State Prosecutor’s Office decided, on March 9, 2020 and March 12, 2020, to shelve the investigation against the subsidiaries of the affiliated company and against Mr. Samy Katsav, chairman of the affiliated company, without filing charges against them,” Gold Bond said in a statement to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.

Bribing a foreign official is a relatively new crime in Israel. It was added to the criminal code in 2008 as part of a commitment Israel made to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and in connection with Israeli ratification the following year of the United Nations Convention against Corruption.

Shachar Mandelman, the lawyer representing Sadeh, said the probe against his client had also been closed. “My client underwent harsh, two-year-old torture that damaged his good name and caused significant financial harm due to the negative publicity accompanying the investigation,” Mandelman said. “I regret that the prosecutor was only able to arrive at a self-evident conclusion after such a long period of time.”