The names of a family member and former adviser to Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz (Likud) were published on Tuesday after the two were questioned over suspected corruption in the multi-billion shekel purchase of naval vessels from a German shipbuilder.
The two were named as Gary Hakim, a businessman and Steinitz’s brother-in-law, and Aviad Shai, who served as an adviser to Steinitz when he was finance minister.
Hakim and Shai were questioned Sunday at the Lod headquarters of the Lahav 433 serious crime unit. Hakim was questioned under caution, while Shai was arrested by police before he was questioned.
The two were later released home with restrictions on where they can go and with whom they can meet and speak until the end of the investigation.
Several other former aides to Steinitz have been named as suspects in the case. Although the minister himself has not been implicated, he is expected to be summoned to provide testimony in the case.
The minister said he was “surprised and pained” by the expected summons, but would cooperate fully.
“I am known as one of the most honest people, no one is more careful than I am” about financial matters, he was quoted by Channel 2 as saying last week.
Steinitz also reportedly told his associates he was blindsided by the developments in the submarines probe, saying “No one in the security establishment warned the cabinet there was a problem with the deal.”
Last Wednesday a court remanded David Sharan, who was chief of staff to Steinitz and then to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in custody for up to six days, saying that the suspicious against him have been “bolstered” in the affair, known as “Case 3000.”
A number of other figures have recently been arrested in connection with the case in addition to Sharan, including senior aide to Steinitz Rami Taib, former minister Eliezer Sandberg and Shay Brosh, a former head of the Israel Navy’s commando unit.
The list of high-level officials arrested or questioned in the probe has been rapidly expanding in light of testimony given by Miki Ganor, who was the local representative of German shipbuilder ThyssenKrupp, the company that manufactured the naval vessels bought by Israel. After being identified as a key suspect in the case, Ganor turned state’s witness in July.
Investigators suspect that Ganor, along with former National Security Council deputy head Avriel Bar-Yosef, paid bribes to influence a decision to buy three submarines from ThyssenKrupp, despite opposition from the Defense Ministry.
They also reportedly influenced decisions to buy naval corvettes to protect Israel’s offshore gas fields and awarded ThyssenKrupp a contract to service other naval vessels.
While Netanyahu has denied wrongdoing in connection with the investigation, and the attorney general has announced he isn’t a suspect, a number of former aides and associates of his have been caught up in the unfolding case.
In addition to Sharan, the former bureau chief to Netanyahu, police have also named David Shimron, the prime minister’s lawyer and cousin; and Bar-Yosef, who had served on Netanyahu’s national security adviser, as suspects.