Israel Police announced on Thursday that it has found sufficient evidence to charge Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's lawyer and confidant, David Shimron, with facilitating bribery.
Police also recommended charging Netanyahu's former bureau chief, David Sharan, former navy chief, Eliezer Marom, and two other ex-navy generals on similar bribery counts in the so-called submarine affair, also known as Case 3000.
Police said evidence was insufficient to charge Netanyahu's other attorney, Isaac Molho.
The so-called submarine affair revolves around alleged corruption surrounding a $2 billion deal to purchase submarines and other naval vessels from German shipbuilder ThyssenKrupp.
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Michael Ganor, a former representative of submarine maker ThyssenKrupp in Israel, has turned state's evidence in the case. Ganor had served in the navy with Brig. Gen. (res.) Avriel Bar-Yosef, who police also recommended to charge.
With the investigation's conclusion, these are the extent of the police recommendations:
Police said it has found sufficient evidence to charge Shimron with facilitating bribery, as well as with offenses of fraudulently receiving goods under aggravating circumstances and money laundering.
Shimron, a cousin and personal lawyer of Netanyahu, represented the German ship builder in Israel. Shimron is the partner of Issac Molho, a Netanyahu family confidant and lawyer of the prime minister and his wife.
Police suspect Shimron has acted as liaison for Ganor to promote a deal between Israel and the ThyssenKrupp, while "making evident use of his status and relation to the prime minister when dealing with government and public officials, "including legal advisers in the Defense Ministry, Economy Ministry" and his partner at the law firm, Isaac Molho. Molho also served as Netanyahu's adviser and special emissary for diplomatic affairs – contrary to his obligation under a conflict of interest settlement applied to the law firm.
In return for his activities for Ganor, Shimron received a "success fee" over several beats at a total of 270,000 shekels, said the police statement.
Police said these payments were given "in fact for 'opening doors' and influencing public officials to promote Ganor's interests in the deal to acquire naval vessels."
Shimron is also suspected of acting to promote Ganor's interests in a separate affair, involving the investment of funds from the German-Israeli Foundation for Scientific Research and Development in a Credit Swiss bank account.
The Shimron, Molho, Persky law firm also provided legal services to the prime minister’s Likud party and to Netanyahu’s wife Sara.
Netanyahu himself was first questioned in the affair in June, but was cleared as a suspect in the case.
Brig. Gen. (ret.) Avriel Bar-Yosef
Police said it has found sufficient evidence to charge Bar-Yosef with bribery, fraud, breach of trust and conspiracy to commit a crime.
Bar-Yosef, who served as the deputy NSC chief, between 2004 and 2009 was the director of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. He served for 25 years in the Israel Defense Forces, where his last army post was as head of the Israel Navy's equipment division.
Bar-Yosef was appointed in 2016 by Netanyahu as his national security adviser and the head of the National Security Council, but the former later announced he would forgo the job.
According to suspicisions, Bar-Yosef offered Ganor to become the representative for the German corportation, acted to advance the acquisitions of naval vessels and demanded payment from Ganor.
Maj. Gen. (ret.) Eliezer Marom
Police said it found sufficient evidence to charge Marom with bribery, fraud, breach of trust and conspiracy to commit a crime, money laundering and tax related offenses.
According to suspicions, Marom acted with Bar-Yosef to appoint Ganor as the representative of ThyssenKrupp, and dealt with acquisition deals, during his capacity as commander of the Israel Navy between 2007 and 2011.
Police additionally believe that after he discharged from the army, Marom received funds from Ganor amounting to 120,000 euros.
Police said it found sufficient evidence to charge Sharan, who acted as head of Netanyahu's bureau between 2014 and 2016, with bribery, fraud, breach of trust, conspiracy to commit a crime, money laundering and offenses in the Campaign Financing Law.
In 1999 Sharan was an adviser to Yuval Steinitz, who at the time chaired the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. When Steinitz was appointed finance minister in 2009, Sharan served as his chief of staff.
In addition, police recommended charging Brig. Gen (res.) Shai Brosh and former minister Eliezer Zandberg with bribery, fraud and breach of trust, as well as conspiracy to commit a crime, money laundering and tax related offenses in Brosh's case.
The suspects' response
Shimron, responding to the police statement, said that "it's very simple - since I committed no offense, according to my assessment and those of my legal advisers, this case won't amount to an indictment."
He said he has yet to read the police recommendations, and added that to say he was not "troubled would be vain and arrogant, but I am one hundred percent sure of my innocence."
Bar-Yosef's attorney, Jack Chen, said the police statement was "tainted with the same tendentiousness that characterized the entire probe. We have no doubt that a serious and practical inspection of the facts, done by the State Prosecutor's Office, will show the immaculate conduct of" Bar-Yosef.
Molho said he was certain the investigation would lead to nothing, and repeated his statement he had no involvement in the matter.
In response, Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit said that "this is a significant case. A difficult one. Serious. It needed to be investigated thoroughly and it's good it was."
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said: "I suggest we wait for the prosecution. We must be patient. This is sad to see but I don't like to condemn people before there's a final decision by the attorney general or state prosecutor."
Avi Gabbay, chairman of the Zionist Union, called on Netanyahu to resign: "Stealing money from the military is akin to to betraying our soldiers. If the prime minister knew about the involvement of his confidants, he needs to resign. And if he didn't know, he should resign because he's clearly incompetent to manage our security apparatus."