Yitzhak Molcho, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s closest confidant and – until two weeks ago – long-time special envoy was named Tuesday morning as the attorney questioned by police in connection with “Case 3000” in which persons close to the prime minister allegedly advanced a deal for the defense ministry to purchase submarines from Germany’s ThyssenKrupp shipbuilding conglomerate over the objections of the IDF.
Molcho was taken in for questioning on Sunday morning along with Netanyahu’s second cousin and personal attorney David Shimron, who is a partner in his law firm E.S. Shimron, I. Molho, Persky & Co. as well as Molcho’s brother-in-law. A gag order had been placed on Molcho’s identity.
Shimron served as attorney for Micki Ganor, a businessmen who represented ThyssenKrupp in negotiations over the deal. Ganor turned state’s witness in the case in July.
Molcho resigned as Netanyahu’s special envoy on October 26, a day before the state was scheduled to answer a petition to bar Molcho from representing the prime minister because of a conflict of interest.
Last July, Attorney Shahar Ben-Meir petitioned Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit to require Netanyahu to stop employing Molcho because of the long personal and professional relationship between the two men and in particular his connection with Molcho’s law firm partner Shimron, given the allegations against him in the submarine affair.
Molcho served alongside Netanyahu since his first stint as prime minister from 1996-99, and again since 2009 upon his return to office. Molcho played a central role in negotiating the 1997 Hebron Protocol and 1998 Wye River Memorandum, and has been Prime Minister Netanyahu’s representative in nearly all negotiations with the Palestinians since then.
Several other high-level officials have been indicted and charged with receiving bribes in return for pushing the €2 billion deal forward.
Netanyahu, who reportedly pushed for the deal to include more submarines than recommended by the security establishment, has not been directly implicated, though he was questioned by the police in the matter. The prime minister claims he had no idea Shimron was involved in the deal.
In response to the scandal, German authorities put the deal on hold in July after Ganor, was arrested on suspicion of bribery. Ganor subsequently agreed to testify for the state, and told police that Shimron stood to earn at least $9 million from the transaction. However, on October 23, the German government approved the sale of three submarines.