New Witness Offers Testimony to Police in Netanyahu Steel Shares Affair

Witness comes forward to say deal between prime minister and his cousin raises suspicion of criminal activity ■ Police say no probe or investigation opened

Prime Minister Netanyahu addresses supporters after winning the election, Tel Aviv, April 10, 2019.
AFP

A witness came forward Tuesday and gave testimony to the police concerning Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's purchase of shares in the Seadrift Coke Company along with his cousin, Nathan Milikowsky.

The witness, who came to the police on his own initiative, said that Netanyahu did not pay for the stock with his own funds and that the deal between the prime minister and his cousin raises suspicion of criminal activity.

The witness also gave the police documents and recordings concerning the affair, which may be linked to what is known as Case 3000, the submarine affair, according to the Ynet news website.

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The police said they have not yet opened a probe or investigation into the Netanyahu's purchase of shares in the company, and said the testimony was provided at the witness's initiative. Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit is expected to decide soon on whether to open an official investigation into the matter.

A spokesman for Netanyahu said the prime minister has acted “completely according to the law and the police themselves have denied opening an examination or investigation into the matter… It seems there some people in the media who have not yet internalized the results of the election.”

Netanyahu allegedly received a discount worth millions of dollars when he purchased shares in his cousin’s Texas-based company Seadrift Coke in 2007. In addition, the cousin transferred money, including cash, by various means, including a $200,000 loan to Netanyahu’s daughter and $300,000 paid toward Netanyahu’s legal fees, as well as providing loans of hundreds of thousands of dollars to Netanyahu himself.

The two men were also in business together, co-owning SeaDrift Coke, a Texas-based manufacturer of petroleum needle coke for the steel industry – until Milikowsky purchased Netanyahu’s stake for 16 million shekels ($4.44 million) in 2010.

During the years Netanyahu was holding shares in Seadrift Coke, Milikowsky owned at least two other companies. It is not clear which companies Netanyahu held shares in, or if SeaDrift Coke was an entirely separate entity.

In any case, one of the companies Milikowsky owned was C/G Electrodes of Pennsylvania, which produces graphite electrodes used in steel production. In 2010, Seadrift and C/G Electrodes merged into GrafTech International, a public company. One of their major clients was the German shipbuilder ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems. ThyssenKrupp is the firm that sold submarines and ships to Israel in a deal that is the heart of the submarine affair.

Last month, Haaretz reported that law enforcement officials involved in investigating the submarine affair thought that an investigation should be opened concerning the recent revelations about the stock that Netanyahu owned. They said the new information showed that Netanyahu had a “clear conflict of interest” in the matter.

A spokesman for the Justice Ministry said: “We do not respond to actions of the law enforcement authorities that are not public, including intelligence activities or the receipt of information from various and sundry people. To remove any doubt, no decisions whatsoever have yet been made in the inquiries related to the stocks matter, and in any case no examination or investigation has been opened.”