Anti-corruption group asks High Court to probe Netanyahu in submarine case

Movement for Quality Government wants attorney general to investigate PM’s decade-old stock deal with cousin tied to Case 3000

Raoul Wootliff is a former Times of Israel political correspondent and Daily Briefing podcast producer.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu touring the INS Tanin submarine, built by the German firm Thyssenkrupp, as it arrived in Israel on September 23, 2014. (Kobi Gideon/GPO/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu touring the INS Tanin submarine, built by the German firm Thyssenkrupp, as it arrived in Israel on September 23, 2014. (Kobi Gideon/GPO/Flash90)

A prominent anti-corruption group petitioned the High Court of Justice Tuesday to investigate Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as part of the high-profile submarine graft probe, claiming it had information linking the prime minister to what many have described as the biggest corruption scandal in Israeli history.

Case 3000 centers on a possible conflict ‎of ‎interest surrounding the multi-billion-shekel procurement of military boats and submarines from German shipbuilder ‎Thyssenkrupp in 2016. Prosecutors allege Israeli officials were bribed to push a massive deal for the vessels, worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

The investigation, which wrapped up this February, has already ensnared several close associates of Netanyahu, although the premier himself was not a suspect.

However, according to the Movement for Quality Government, Netanyahu is also implicated in the case and must be questioned as a suspect. The group did not release the information it claims to have, saying it does not wish to interfere in the investigation it hopes will be opened.

In the petition filed with the High Court, the group said that Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit must investigate a decade-old stock deal Netanyahu made with his cousin, US businessman Nathan Milikowsky, and which is linked to Thyssenkrupp.

Nathan Milikowsky in 2013, in San Francisco (Drew Altizer Photography)

According to media reports, Netanyahu made a return of over 700 percent on stocks in Milikowsky’s company Seadrift, a firm with ties to the German shipbuilder. Netanyahu bought the shares for $400,000 and then sold them in 2010 to his cousin for $4.3 million.

Saying that it has obtained testimony from several officials involved in the case, the Movement for Quality Government said the transaction proved impropriety in Netanyahu’s financial dealings and directly linked him to Case 3000.

The group, in addition to calling for the investigation to be reopened, also asked the court to order a State Commission of Inquiry into the claims.

A spokesperson for the Netanyahu family declined to comment on the claims.

In December 2019, prosecutors announced an initial round of charges against suspects in Case 300, among them former defense officials and close associates of Netanyahu. In February, they said they would be charging several more confidants of the prime minister.

Israeli businessman Miki Ganor, arrested in the submarine affair known as “Case 3000,” at a court hearing in Jerusalem on March 22, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Thyssenkrupp’s former agent in Israel Miki Ganor is being charged with bribery, money laundering and tax offenses, as is Eliezer Marom, a former head of the Israeli navy. Avriel Bar-Yosef, Netanyahu’s onetime pick for national security advisor, faces charges of requesting a bribe, taking a bribe, fraud and breach of trust.

According to state prosecutors, Bar-Yosef first approached Ganor about becoming Thyssenkrupp’s representative in Israel because he “wanted to derive financial benefit.” He then allegedly enlisted Marom, who was head of the navy at the time, to help lobby for Ganor’s appointment.

Ganor allegedly went on to pay them NIS 200,000 ($58,000) in total, with prosecutors accusing Bar-Yosef of working to advance naval purchases while serving as deputy national security adviser.

Also facing charges of bribery, breach of trust and money laundering in the case is David Sharan, a former aide to Netanyahu and to Energy Minister Yuval Steinetz. David Shimron, Netanyahu’s cousin and former personal lawyer, is to be charged with money laundering.

The prime minister is currently on trial for bribery, fraud and breach of trust in three other criminal cases. He denies the charges against him.

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