Netanyahu Lawyer and Confidant Isaac Molho Questioned for Fifth Time in Submarine Corruption Case

He is suspected of breach of trust in promoting a German submarine deal while on official diplomatic business

Isaac Molho
Tess Scheflan

Isaac Molho, a lawyer, long-time confidant and special diplomatic envoy for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was questioned by police investigators for a fifth time on Wednesday. Molho is suspected of breach of trust in connection with alleged corruption in Israel’s procurement of submarines and missile boats from Germany, a probe that Israeli police have dubbed Case 3000.

Molho is suspected of promoting Israel’s purchase of the naval vessels from German shipbuilder ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems while on official diplomatic missions for the prime minister. Because Molho was officially representing Netanyahu on these missions, the police are treating him as a public official who they claim wass subject to all of the legal restrictions applying to public servants.

As part of a conflict-of-interest agreement that he signed, Molho committed to avoid dealing with any matter connected to his law firm’s clients on his diplomatic missions or in his talks with Israeli officials. David Shimron, Molho’s law partner and brother-in-law, who is also Netanyahu’s personal lawyer, was representing ThyssenKrupp in Israel. The Shimron, Molho, Persky law firm also provided legal services to the prime minister’s Likud party and to Netanyahu’s wife, Sara.

Two months ago, the police arranged a confrontation between Molho and Michael Ganor, the former ThyssenKrupp representative in Israel, who turned state’s evidence in the case. The short session, held at the offices of the Lahav 443 national anti-corruption unit of the police in Lod, lasted about 10 minutes and was part of a larger eight-hour interrogation.

Ganor said Molho acted to help solve some of the problems involved in completing the submarine purchase. Molho did not deny meeting with Ganor, but did deny acting on behalf of Ganor and ThyssenKrupp. Isaac Molho is suspected not only of working on Shimron’s and Ganor’s behalf, but also of not informing the appropriate authorities of the possible conflict of interest.

Ganor was among the first of those arrested in Case 3000 for allegedly bribing Israeli officials and associates of the prime minister finalize Israel’s purchase of three submarines and four missile boats from ThyssenKrupp for nearly 2 billion euros ($2.3 billion). He signed an agreement to turn state’s evidence following his arrest last year.

Molho served as special envoy twice, from 1996 to 1999 and then again beginning in 2009. He conducted negotiations on Netanyahu’s behalf with the Palestinian Authority, was involved in cease-fire negotiations with Hamas in Gaza and has also been a central figure in contacts with the Egyptians. He attended meetings of the security cabinet and was involved in government coalition negotiations. He performed these services without compensation, although the government did cover considerable expenses that he incurred. He continued working at his law firm during these periods.