PM’s Personal Lawyer Questioned In Submarines Investigation

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s lawyer David Shimron is the unnamed attorney with close ties to the premier who was questioned under caution in recent days in connection with the so-called submarine affair, police said Wednesday.

Shimron is a suspect in “Case 3000,” in which authorities are investigating possible corruption and bribery involved in multi-billion shekel naval deals with German shipbuilding company ThyssenKrupp.

He is currently under house arrest.

Shimron’s name has been widely linked with the case for several months, but following his rest his name was barred from publication. the gag order was lifted Wednesday morning.

On Tuesday police also placed the former commander of the Israeli Navy under house arrest, after questioning him for hours on suspicion of receiving bribes in the case. Maj. Gen. (res) Eliezer Marom will remain confined to his home until Thursday.

Marom and Shimron are among six suspects brought in for questioning as part of the ongoing investigation. They are suspected of attempting to sway deals in favor of ThyssenKrupp.

Two other suspects are former deputy head of the National Security Council Avriel Bar-Yosef and ThyssenKrupp’s Israeli agent Miki Ganor.

The suspects were questioned under caution for more than 12 hours on suspicions of fraud, bribery, tax evasion and money laundering, the Israel Police and the Tax Authority said in a joint statement. “At the time of the events under question, some of the suspects were public servants and some worked in the private sector,” the statement said.

Netanyahu is not a suspect in the case. However, police are planning to summon him to testify on what he knows about the issue.

The Israeli-German deals came under intense scrutiny late last year, after it was revealed by Channel 10 news that Shimron had also served as ThyssenKrupp agent Ganor’s lawyer in the deal, where the german company was awarded the contracts for building Israel’s submarines and naval attack boats.

At the time Shimron denied any improprieties.

Shimron said he “did not discuss these matters with the prime minister,” and denied any effort to influence a decision over the deal.

“I have not spoken with any state officials about the privatization of the naval shipyard, nor I have not dealt with any state officials about vessels purchased by the State of Israel,” he said in a statement.

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit ordered the Israel Police to formally look into the submarine affair in November 2016, after accusations surfaced that Netanyahu may have been swayed to purchase vessels by Shimron.

Shimron is suspected of pushing for an 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 being pushed by Shimron would also have seen ThyssenKrupp construct a lucrative shipyard in Israel, where the company would maintain the new vessels.

Netanyahu has denied any wrongdoing in the multi-billion-shekel deal for the submarines, saying that bolstering Israel’s long-term security needs was the “only consideration” behind the purchases. Netanyahu had pushed for Israel to buy the vessels, against the wishes of the Israel Defense Forces as well as then-defense minister Moshe Ya’alon.

While police have repeatedly said Netanyahu is not a suspect, top officals say he should be.

Ya’alon has repeatedly accused Netanyahu of improprieties in the submarine deal

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