Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s former lawyer David Shimron insisted Thursday that the premier was unaware of any illicit activity in the purchase of naval vessels from a German shipbuilder, after police recommended the indictment of a number of Netanyahu’s associates, including Shimron, in a criminal investigation into the alleged corruption.
Shimron, who is also Netanyahu’s cousin, was one of six high-profile figures who police said should be charged with bribery in the so-called Case 3000, which revolves around Israel’s acquisition of submarines manufactured by the German industrial giant ThyssenKrupp at a cost of hundreds of million of dollars.
Police said there was also sufficient evidence to indict former National Security Council deputy head Brig. Gen (res.) Avriel Bar-Yosef; former navy chief Eliezer Marom; David Sharan, a former Netanyahu chief of staff; Brig. Gen (res.) Shay Brosh; and former minister Eliezer Sandberg.
Shimron’s involvement in the case stems from his legal representation of Miki Ganor, who served as ThyssenKrupp’s representation in Israel and was a suspect in the investigation before turning state’s witness in June 2017. Police said Shimron is suspected of mediating bribes, acting “on Ganor’s behalf as a representative of the German corporation in order to promote the deal between Israel and the corporation while using his status and proximity to the prime minister and public officials he worked with.”
He is also suspected of fraud and money laundering offenses in illicitly helping Ganor secure an investment in Swiss bank Credit Suisse.
Shimron is suspected of pushing for a NIS 6 billion ($1.5 billion) defense contract to purchase submarines for the Israeli Navy and other vessels for protecting the country’s maritime natural gas fields, an effort that could have netted him a hefty fee. Netanyahu’s own role in the purchase decision, including his insistence that Thyssenkrupp be exempted from the usual Defense Ministry tender process, raised concerns of a conflict of interest for Shimron. Part of the agreement allegedly being pushed by Shimron would also have seen ThyssenKrupp construct a lucrative shipyard in Israel, where the company would maintain the new vessels.
Despite Netanyahu’s ties to suspects in the case, Shimron rejected claims that the prime minister — who has been questioned as a witness but not as a suspect in the scandal — was aware of or involved in alleged wrongdoing.
“I don’t give the prime minister information about my customers, just as I don’t ask him about various matters he deals with,” Shimron told Hadashot TV news in an interview.
“People can claim all sorts of things. The question is what is the truth, and the truth is that I never discussed this with him. I don’t think I needed to talk with him about this, neither then nor in retrospect,” he added.
Shimron also denied any wrongdoing on his own part and said he believed prosecutors would close the case without an indictment.
“I acted 100 percent in accordance with the law, 100% as a lawyer,” he said, while denying he had an agreement with Ganor to receive a cut of his commission in the ThyssenKrupp deal.
Along with the other five suspects, police recommended Shimron be charged with bribery, fraud, breach of trust, money laundering, and other lesser charges.
A lawyer for Shimron said the police recommendations showed his client was not in any way involved in any corruption connected to the submarine deals.
“Today everyone can see that what we said all along was true: Shimron was not connected to submarines; he did not mediate [in a deal for] submarines; he was not a partner of Ganor’s in connection to submarines or any other matter,” Amit Hadad said in a statement.
“And he definitely was not supposed to receive or did receive nine million euros for the submarine deal,” Hadad added, referring to a television report on the amount Shimron was allegedly promised by Ganor for the submarine deal.
Police said there was insufficient evidence to recommend indicting Netanyahu’s former adviser and confidant Yitzhak Molcho, Shimron’s law partner, who had also been linked to the case.
Netanyahu himself is not suspected in the case, but has been questioned as a witness by police over the suspicions, which revolve around Israel’s acquisition of German submarines manufactured by industrial giant Thyssenkrupp.
Following Thursday’s police announcement, a number of opposition figures called on Netanyahu to resign.
The police recommendations will now be reviewed by state prosecutors who will decide whether to prosecute.