Netanyahu Lawyer Is Bribery Suspect in Sub Case, Police Say
(Bloomberg) -- Israeli police said they have found evidence to charge at least six people -- including a confidant of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and senior ex-military officers -- with bribery in connection with contracts to buy submarines and other vessels from Germany’s Thyssenkrupp AG.
The scandal, which first unfolded two years ago, is perhaps the biggest bribery case in Israel’s history and has hit hard because of its link to Netanyahu’s inner circle and to top ranks of the military, a much-venerated institution in Israeli society. Among the six people the police identified is David Shimron, Netanyahu’s personal legal adviser, police said in a text message. Others include the former head of Israel’s navy and Netanyahu’s former chief of staff.
The prime minister himself, who gave testimony in the investigation, is not implicated.
Shimron is suspected of acting on behalf of Thyssenkrupp’s local representative to promote the deal through his status and access to Netanyahu and other public officials, and of receiving payments as “reward for success.” Police said there’s not enough evidence to charge Shimron’s law partner and brother-in-law, Yitzhak Molcho, who served for years as a foreign policy emissary for Netanyahu.
Amit Hadad, Shimron’s lawyer, denied any wrongdoing by his client, saying he had acted properly as an attorney representing Thyssenkrupp’s local representative. The police findings did not support the allegations against his client that have emerged over the past two years, he said.
“It is now clear that as far as Advocate Shimron is concerned -- the submarine case completely collapsed,” Hadad said in a text message.
The possibility that taxpayer money might have funded a corrupt arms deal has spooked Germany enough that officials came close to terminating the submarine agreement before it was concluded last year, according to a person with knowledge of the negotiations. Instead, they inserted a provision into the contract allowing it to be canceled if Israeli investigators determine it was the product of corruption.
The investigation also brought to light shortcomings regarding practices related to defense purchases in general, the police said. These issues will be brought to the attention of the proper authorities in order to protect the public in the future, it said.
A Thyssenkrupp spokesman said Thursday that the company’s only information is from the media, but as soon as it knows all the facts it will examine further measures within the framework of the legal possibilities.”
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