Police on Monday arrested six individuals, including one said to be “very close” to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, in the so-called Submarine Affair, in which Israeli officials are accused of improprieties with regard to the purchase of submarines from Germany’s ThyssenKrupp shipbuilders. At least three of them, Channel Two reported, held “senior positions” in either the government or the companies said to be involved in the matter.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has not been considered a suspect in the case until now. Among those who have been questioned have been David Shimron, an attorney who represented ThyssenKrupp’s interests, ThyssenKrupp representative Miki Ganor, and Eliezer Marom, former Commander of the Israeli Navy. According to allegations, Shimron and Ganor pushed Marom and other defense officials to order the company’s Dolphin-class submarines. The case was upgraded to a criminal investigation earlier this year.
In the inquiry, State Attorney Avichai Mandelblit is investigating if bribery or other favor-trading was involved in the eventual Israeli decision to buy the submarines. The 2014 deal to buy the submarines was plagued with questions, as the Defense Ministry froze public tenders for the purchase of new submarines, with a contract eventually signed with ThyssenKrupp.
According to German news reports, the company has been accused of bribing officials in other countries, including Greece, Turkey, South Korea and Pakistan, in order to sell ships and submarines.