Suspect in Submarine Affair Says He Passed Money Onto Netanyahu’s Former Bureau Chief

Tzachi Lieber says he was asked to mediate fictitious transaction between Michael Ganor, the Israeli rep for German shipbuilder, and David Sharan, who is suspected of fraud and bribe-taking

David Sharan in Rishon Letzion Magistrate's Court, September 7, 2017.
Yaniv Kubovich

Media adviser Tzachi Lieber, who has been implicated in the criminal investigation concerning Israel’s purchase of submarines from a German shipbuilder, claimed he transferred money from Michael Ganor, the shipyard’s representative in Israel, to David Sharan, the former bureau chief of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The allegations were made by Lieber’s lawyer, Yair Regev, in Rishon Letzion Magistrate’s Court on Thursday, during a hearing request for an extension of Lieber’s detention. The court decided to extend both Lieber and Sharan’s detention by a further six days.

The so-called submarine affair involves allegations of bribery in a deal to purchase three submarines and a number of ships from Germany to protect Israel’s offshore drilling platforms, at a total cost of around 1.5 billion euros ($1.8 billion).

During Thursday’s hearing, Regev claimed that Sharan – who already knew Lieber – approached him and asked Lieber to accept about 100,000 shekels ($28,300) from Ganor, who has turned state’s evidence in the case.

Sharan asked Lieber to arrange a fictitious transaction with Ganor to transfer the funds, Regev added.

Sharan, who is also a former bureau chief to Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz, is suspected of accepting a bribe, fraud, breach of trust and conspiracy, while Lieber is suspected of mediating the bribery and obstruction of justice.

A police representative told the court that since the most recent hearing in Sharan’s case, there had been major developments in the investigation and that suspicions against Sharan had grown.

The police representative said had Sharan worked with others to disrupt the investigation. The presiding judge, Einat Ron, said the investigative material shows that a genuine concern exists that Sharan would indeed disrupt the investigation.

Netanyahu himself is not a suspect in the case, although David Shimron – a personal lawyer and adviser to the prime minister, as well as his cousin – is.

The German shipbuilder is ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems, part of the German industrial group ThyssenKrupp. It was represented in Israel by Ganor, who was the key suspect in the affair.

Ganor allegedly bribed high-ranking Israeli defense officials in order to advance the deal with ThyssenKrupp. In July, he signed an agreement to turn state’s evidence in the case. In exchange for testifying against the other suspects, he will serve one year in prison and be fined 10 million shekels.