Three Israelis were arrested Sunday morning on suspicion of bribing foreign officials to enable defense deals worth tens of millions of dollars, police said.
The suspects are reportedly senior officials in Israel Shipyards, a formerly state-owned firm that is the country’s biggest shipbuilder and one of the largest in the Eastern Mediterranean.
The officials are suspected of bribing a Nigerian public employee in exchange for the company winning a tender to provide the African country with warships, the Walla news site reported.
The several-month investigation was made public on Sunday when police officers raided Israel Shipyards’ offices in the Port of Haifa and detained the officials for questioning under caution.
They are suspected of bribing a foreign public official, false registration in corporate documents, fraud, money laundering, tax offenses and breaking a law that regulates security-related exports.
The probe was carried out by the police’s Lahav 433 anti-corruption unit along with the Israel Tax Authority.
International law enforcement bodies have also been involved in the probe, the police statement added.
Israel Shipyards was established by the State of Israel in 1959 and was privatized in 1995. Today it operates Israel’s only privately owned port, called the Kishon Port, which is within the Haifa Port.
The company has built many of the IDF navy’s vessels, and has exported warships to countries that include Chile, Sri Lanka, Greece, Mexico, Equatorial Guinea and Nigeria.