JERUSALEM – Israeli police on Thursday recommended the indictment of one of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's closest confidants and three others from his inner circle in a sprawling bribery case involving the multibillion-dollar purchase of submarines and missile boats from Germany.
Netanyahu was not a suspect in the naval-acquisition scandal, which has been called Case 3000. The police have recommended criminal bribery, fraud and breach of trust charges against Netanyahu in two other corruption inquiries.
The police said they had sufficient evidence to charge David Shimron, Netanyahu's second cousin as well as his personal lawyer, with bribery and money laundering.
Shimron, they said, had exploited his "status and closeness to the prime minister" to promote the submarine purchase on behalf of Michael Ganor, an Israeli agent working for ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems, the shipyard that builds the vessels. In exchange, Shimron was paid nearly $75,000 for influencing officials in favor of the deal, police said. Ganor turned state's witness in 2017.
Also accused is David Sharan, who was chief of staff to Netanyahu from late 2014 to 2016. The police said Sharan received about $35,000 from Ganor from 2013 until 2016.
The police recommended indicting two others from Netanyahu's inner circle: Avriel Bar-Yosef, who was Netanyahu's nominee to be his national security adviser until the scandal broke; and Eliezer (Modi) Zandberg, who was Netanyahu's appointee as chairman of Keren Hayesod, which leads fundraising efforts for Israel in dozens of countries.
Bar-Yosef is accused of helping Ganor get hired to represent ThyssenKrupp and then taking a cut of his fees. Zandberg is accused of using his influence to help Ganor with access to officials and inside information in exchange for payoffs of about $27,000.
With elections expected early next year, it is unclear how the recommendations in the case will affect Netanyahu's standing. But Netanyahu could point to the end of the police inquiry as proof that he personally had nothing to do with the improprieties.
Ehud Barak, the former prime minister who has been a critic of Netanyahu's, wrote on Twitter that the indictments amounted to the "collapse and betrayal of state security."