Israeli police have arrested six people, including some “very close associates” of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, over bribery, fraud, and money laundering charges, in a case that could be highly consequential for the Israeli premier.
The detainees were questioned as “criminal suspects” over the charges on Monday morning, the website of Israeli daily Haaretz reported.
Three of them were said to be central figures in the so-called “submarine affair” – also known as “File 3000” – which involves allegedly secretive dealings between Israeli officials and German military manufacturer ThyssenKrupp.
Back in 2016, Netanyahu authorized the purchase of three submarines from ThyssenKrupp even as military strategists believed it was unnecessary and therefore did not mandate the purchases. Later, and despite a protest from the then-minister for military affairs, Moshe Ya’alon, Netanyahu planned to quietly sign a deal to buy the subs. Ya’alon protested once again, and although the deal was not signed, he was reportedly forced to resign.
Later, speculation was raised that Netanyahu’s personal lawyer, David Shimron, had lobbied military officials to approve the purchases from ThyssenKrupp. Shimron is Netanyahu’s cousin and also a personal attorney to Michael Ganor, a local businessman who represents the German firm in Israel.
All of that has raised suspicions of a breach of trust. And the case may proceed as far as to implicate Netanyahu himself, whose political fate would hang in the balance as more details may come to light, especially with the Monday arrests of his close associates.
An Israeli police car is seen at the entrance to the residence of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as members of the media wait for the arrival of police investigators, January 2, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
The legal issues have, meanwhile, concerned the German government, which has agreed to subsidize the deal for the three submarines.
Netanyahu faces at least three criminal cases, the so-called Files 1000, 2000, and 3000. The Israeli prime minister himself has previously been questioned by investigators.