Israel's State Prosecutor May Nix State's Evidence Deal With Key Figure in Submarine Affair

Michael Ganor, who served as German shipbuilder Thyssenkrupp's representative in Israel, recanted his testimony citing pressure on his family

Michael Ganor in Magistrate's Court, Rishon Letzion, Israel, March 20, 2019.
\ Ilan Assayag

The Israeli state prosecutor said on Thursday that it is considering calling off the state's evidence agreement with former navy official Michael Ganor, after he recanted his testimony in the case over alleged corruption in Israel’s purchase of submarines.

According to the state prosecutor, Ganor's testimony following re-questioning this week "contradicts his detailed testimony given as state's evidence." Ganor's defense attorneys will plead their case by Wednesday.

On Tuesday, investigators confronted Ganor with statements in previous interrogations, as well as recordings and other evidence he had previously given to police. 

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Ganor told confidantes that he had agreed to turn state's evidence because of police pressure. "I agreed to sign a state's witness agreement only because the police threatened to arrest my wife and daughters – I couldn't take the pressure," he said. "The police set the narrative in the case. Every time before confrontations with chief suspects, investigators took him to a room that was not recorded by cameras and instructed me exactly what to say and how to act. This is the truth – I don't want to lie and say that this was bribery."

Ganor is a former senior Israeli navy official who was German shipbuilder ThyssenKrupp’s representative in Israel. The case in which he has been implicated, dubbed Case 3000, involves alleged corruption over Israel’s purchase of submarines and missile boats for the Israel Navy. In recent months, he has expressed dissatisfaction over the state’s evidence agreement in his case, calling it draconian and divorced from reality.

In November, the police announced that it found sufficient evidence to charge Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s lawyer, David Shimron, with facilitating bribery in the affair. Shimron, who is also Netanyahu’s cousin, began representing Ganor in 2009. Police say Ganor used the family connection to Netanyahu to advance ThyssenKrupp’s interests in what became a deal worth nearly $2 billion for the company.

Police also recommended charging Netanyahu’s former bureau chief, David Sharan, former navy chief Eliezer Marom and two other ex-navy commanders on similar bribery counts in the case. Ganor served in the navy with Brig. Gen. (res.) Avriel Bar-Yosef, who police also recommended to charge.

The latest development could make it more difficult for prosecutors to prove their case against the other suspects, however, because Ganor’s earlier statements that the funds that he had transferred were bribes are considered central to the case.

Earlier this month, Channel 13 News reported that Netanyahu had been a business partner of another cousin, Nathan Milikowsky until 2010, and that they had owned shares in a company, GrafTech International, that was a supplier to Thyssenkrupp, the German shipbuilder at the center of Case 3000.