State cancels deal with Miki Ganor in submarine graft case

Prosecution informs key witness in scandal snaring several aides to Netanyahu that his immunity agreement is off after he changes his story and exercises right to remain silent

Miki Ganor attends a hearing at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem on March 22, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Miki Ganor attends a hearing at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem on March 22, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

State prosecutors on Tuesday informed lobbyist Miki Ganor that his deal with the state in a high-profile investigation into suspected corruption in the purchase of naval vessels from Germany was canceled after he stopped cooperating with investigators.

The step means that Ganor, who admitted to taking bribes in the case, has lost his immunity from prosecution.

In a letter, attorney Liat Ben-Ari Shweiki told lawyers representing Ganor that the agreement was invalidated because Ganor had changed his testimony and damaged his credibility as a witness.

The agreement is canceled “both because of the presentation of versions that are substantially different from previous versions that [Ganor] gave shortly after signing an agreement, and because of the damage to his credibility stemming from the delivery of this new version,” wrote Ben-Ari Shweiki.

According to the letter, Ganor has also begun to exercise his right to remain silent, which is a breach of his obligations under the deal.

Liat Ben-Ari (YouTube screenshot)

Ganor was the prosecution’s key witness in the Case 3000 submarine acquisitions corruption investigation. In March he told police in the top anti-corruption unit, Lahav 433, that he wished to alter key parts of the testimony he gave in the case.

He now denies bribing anyone.

Police believe Israeli officials were bribed to push a massive deal for military naval vessels worth hundreds of millions of dollars, in what some have called the largest suspected graft scandal in the country’s history.

Ganor, a former agent in Israel for the German shipbuilder Thyssenkrupp, signed an agreement with prosecutors in July 2017 to become a state witness and cooperate in the probe, which focused on the period he worked for the company between 2009 and 2017. He admitted to bribing a string of senior officials in order to help secure contracts for Thyssenkrupp with Israel’s Defense Ministry.

Later, in rescinding his testimony, Ganor claimed that while he stood behind the facts he had given to police, the payments he gave were consulting fees and not bribes. He said police had pressured him to describe the circumstances so that they shored up the claim he acted to bribe senior state employees.

Police laid out the details of the case when they concluded the investigation in November 2018 and handed it to prosecutors with the recommendation that numerous indictments be brought against senior figures in the Israeli defense elite, as well as several close confidants of the prime minister.

For Ganor’s role in aiding the police investigation, prosecutors agreed to set aside the major corruption charges against him and settle for a punishment only for his tax offenses in the case. The punishment included a 12-month prison sentence and a fine of NIS 10 million (roughly $2.7 million).

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seen at a welcoming ceremony for the new submarine ‘Rahav’ at the Israeli navy base in Haifa, on January 12, 2016. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

The investigation snared several of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s closest associates, along with former senior officials, including Eliezer Marom, a former head of the Israeli Navy.

Though Netanyahu himself is not a suspect in the case, the involvement of so many of his confidants and his own dealings with a separate company that had business transactions with Thyssenkrupp have been raised by his opponents in the lead-up to the elections on April 9.

Ganor was jailed in March after shocking authorities by retracting parts of his testimony. A court later granted a police request to allow Ganor to return home.

On February 20, the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court agreed that suspicions leveled against Ganor — of obstructing an investigation, bribery, fraud and money laundering — should be re-investigated in light of his new version of events.

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