Germany Launches Investigation Into Israel's Submarine Affair

German prosecutor cites 'international news' that prompted a probe, but local media reports say Israel requested the investigation into the affair Netanyahu is embroiled in

A new submarine built for the Israeli Navy at the dite of ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems in Kiel, northern Germany on April 25, 2013.
AFP

An investigation has been launched in Germany into Israel's submarine affair, the public prosecutor's office of the city of Bochum said Tuesday. 

The prosecutor's spokesperson said that the probe was opened following "international news," but did not state which country issued such media reports. While Israel was not mentioned by name, it is likely that he referred to recent stories in the Israeli press.

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The German-language economic newspaper Handelsblatt reported Monday that the investigation was launched at Israel's request. At the center of the probe, the report said, is a bribe of over a billion Euro, but the spokesperson's statement does not specify exactly what or whom is being investigated.

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The affair is related to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's $2 billion purchase of German submarines built by ThyssenKrupp, a shipbuilding firm that acquired a company in which Netanyahu holds shares. The prime minister also signed off on Germany's sale of advanced submarines to Egypt, which he allegedly approved without consulting the chief of staff or defense minister.

Netanyahu was questioned but not named as a suspect in a probe related to a possible conflict of interests in the deal. Police recommended charging six suspects, including Netanyahu's lawyer and his former bureau chief, for bribery in the affair.

The German media also mentioned that Israel is still awaiting the transfer of an additional submarine from Germany. According to these reports, the transaction has not yet been completed, and Germany is waiting to see how the investigation will develop.

Until now, Germany has not gotten involved in the submarine affair, and has claimed that it is an internal Israeli issue. ThyssenKrupp, the submarine manufacturer, told Handelsblatt that the investigation is, as of now, not directed against them.