PM’s former chief of staff to turn state’s witness — report
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PM’s former chief of staff to turn state’s witness — report

Ari Harow could aid police investigation into quid pro quo deal Netanyahu allegedly struck with Yedioth Ahronoth owner

Raoul Wootliff covers politics, corruption and crime for The Times of Israel.

Ari Harow, former chief of staff of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at a Likud meeting in the Israeli parliament, November 24, 2014. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Ari Harow, former chief of staff of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at a Likud meeting in the Israeli parliament, November 24, 2014. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Ari Harow, a former chief of staff and aide to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is set to turn state’s witness as part of the ongoing investigations into alleged corruption, according to Hebrew media reports Tuesday.

Harow has been under investigation since mid-2015 on suspicion of using his ties to Netanyahu to advance his private business interests. Police have recommended he be indicted for bribery and breach of trust in the case, but the attorney general has yet to file formal charges.

That investigation sparked at least one corruption investigation of Netanyahu himself, after investigators uncovered recordings on Harow’s computer of meetings between Netanyahu and Yedioth Ahronoth publisher Arnon Mozes in late 2014 and early 2015. In the recording, the two seemed to discuss an illicit quid pro quo deal that would have seen the prime minister hobble a rival daily, the Sheldon Adelson-backed Israel Hayom, in return for more favorable coverage from Yedioth.

That investigation, dubbed “Case 2000” by police, is ongoing, as is a separate corruption investigation into allegations that the prime minister receiving illicit gifts from billionaire benefactors.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and his then-chief of staff Ari Harow arrive at a Likud faction meeting in the Knesset, November 24, 2014. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and his then-chief of staff Ari Harow arrive at a Likud faction meeting in the Knesset, November 24, 2014. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Harow is reportedly willing to provide information in both probes, having served as chief of staff during the time of the alleged deal with Mozes and while Netanyahu is said to have received gifts worth thousands of shekels.

Harow was unavailable to comment on the reports. A spokesperson for his 3H Global consultancy firm, implicated in the investigation against him, declined to comment.

Publisher and owner of the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper Arnon 'Noni' Mozes arrives for questioning at the Lahav 433 investigation unit in Lod, January 15, 2017. (Koko/Flash90)
Publisher and owner of the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper Arnon ‘Noni’ Mozes arrives for questioning at the Lahav 433 investigation unit in Lod, January 15, 2017. (Koko/Flash90)

Harow first worked for Netanyahu as foreign affairs adviser during his stint as leader of the opposition. He then spearheaded the 2009 election campaign that catapulted Netanyahu back into office. Following the election, he served as the prime minister’s bureau chief until 2010, managing Netanyahu’s schedule and advising him on a range of issues.

Harow took a break from politics in 2010, when he founded 3H Global. He later returned as chief of staff of the Prime Minister’s Office in 2014, serving there for a year before leaving to run the 2015 election campaign for Netanyahu’s Likud party.

Ganor testimony gagged

Separately on Tuesday, the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court imposed a gag order on all details related to the testimony of a suspect turned state’s witness arrested as part of the ongoing investigation into the allegedly corrupt multi-million-dollar purchase of naval vessels from Germany.

On July 21, Miki Ganor, a former agent for the German submarine company ThyssenKrupp, signed a deal to become a state’s witness in what legal analysts described as major development in the corruption case that could lead to indictments of senior public officials.

Following the publication of details of Ganor’s testimony, the court ruled to impose a gag order on further reports until September 17. Justice Einat Ron wrote on the gag order that the extensive reporting on the case “has the potential to seriously damage the ongoing investigation.”

Miki Ganor, arrested in the submarine affair also known as 'Case 3000,' is brought for a court hearing at the Magistrate's Court in Rishon Letzion, July 10, 2017. (Moti Kimchi/Pool)
Miki Ganor, arrested in the submarine affair also known as ‘Case 3000,’ is brought for a court hearing at the Magistrate’s Court in Rishon Letzion, July 10, 2017. (Moti Kimchi/Pool)

In a statement, police said the gag order relates to “all details from the investigation related to or included within the testimony of the state’s witness or to proceedings that took place before his signing of the deal to become state’s witness.”

Investigators suspect that Ganor, along with former National Security Council deputy head Avriel Bar-Yosef, paid out bribes in connection with a decision to buy three submarines from ThyssenKrupp, despite opposition from the Israeli Defense Ministry.

On Sunday, it was reported that Ganor’s testimony includes claims that David Shimron, Netanyahu’s cousin and personal attorney, was to receive a 20 percent cut of the deal’s $45 million commission.

Ganor and Shimron are among six suspects brought in for questioning earlier this month as part of the investigation dubbed “Case 3000.” They are suspected of attempting to sway deals in favor of ThyssenKrupp. Two other suspects are former deputy head of the National Security Council Avriel Bar-Yosef and former commander of the Israeli Navy Maj. Gen. (res) Eliezer Marom.

The suspects were questioned under caution on suspicion of fraud, bribery, tax evasion and money laundering, the Israel Police and the Tax Authority said in a joint statement.

Netanyahu is not a suspect in the case. However, police are planning to summon him to testify on what he knows about the issue.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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