The Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday ordered a former bureau chief to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to be held in jail for a further six days, saying that the suspicious against him have been “bolstered” in the Case 3000 criminal probe surrounding Israeli naval acquisitions from Germany,
The suspect, David Sharan, a former top aide to Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz before joining the Prime Minister’s Office as chief of staff in 2014, had his remand extended until September 12.
“The suspicions against Sharan have been significantly bolstered,” said Justice Einat Ron during the hearing. Police say Sharan, one of a number of high-profile public officials arrested in the affair, is suspected of taking bribes, fraud, breach of trust and conspiring to commit a crime.
A lawyer for another suspect said Sharan had asked his client to bring money to a middleman considered a key figure in the widening scandal.
“There have been a number of developments of the past few days regarding the suspects, including Sharan,” Ron said, adding that there was an additional suspicion he could obstruct the investigation if released from police custody.
Sharan and five other suspects were arrested Sunday in early morning raids as part of the ongoing corruption investigation into the multi-million-dollar purchase of vessels from Germany. Since then, several additional suspects have also been questioned under caution including former minister Eliezer Sandberg, former commander of the navy’s elite Shayetet commando unit Brigadier General (res.) Shay Brosh, and Rami Taib, a current senior aide to Steinitz.
The court also extended the remand Thursday of strategic adviser Tzachi Lieber, suspected of being a middleman in the deal to buy three submarines and several other naval vessels from ThyssenKrupp, despite opposition from the Israeli Defense Ministry.
The ever-expanding list of high level officials to be arrested or questioned in the probe comes following information given by Miki Ganor, who had been the local representative of German shipbuilder ThyssenKrupp. After being identified as a key suspect in the case, Ganor turned state’s witness in July.
During Lieber’s remand hearing, his lawyer said that Sharan, while leading the Prime Minister’s office, asked his client to bring him money from Ganor.
Investigators suspect that Ganor, along with former National Security Council deputy head Avriel Bar-Yosef, paid bribes in connection with the decision to buy the vessels from ThyssenKrupp.
Sharan served as Netanyahu’s bureau chief from late 2014 to 2016. A lieutenant colonel in the IDF reserves and former chief of staff to Steinitz when he was finance minister, Sharan is a longtime Likud operative and confidant of the prime minister.
While Netanyahu is not suspected in the case, his personal lawyer, David Shimron, has been questioned several times by police’s anti-corruption unit Lahav 433. Ganor has reportedly told investigators that Shimron (who was also his attorney) was to receive 20 percent of his own commission of $45 million.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.