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Israeli Prime Minister’s Personal Envoy Ensnared In Submarine Scandal

By Ian May | The Media Line

November 8, 2017


Isaac Molcho named as a suspect in “Case 3000”, a police investigation into potential corruption at the highest levels of government

Isaac Molcho, who served as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s confidant, associate and personal envoy since 1996, was questioned by police under caution over the last three days. In what is being viewed as a bombshell revelation, Israel’s police suspect him of breach of trust in a case involving corruption over the purchase of German submarines from the company ThyssenKrupp. Investigators from Lahav 433, the Israeli police anti-corruption unit, suspect senior Israeli officials received bribes in return for approving the sale of Dolphin-class submarines for Israel’s navy despite opposition from the Defense Ministry.

Molcho’s legal partner and brother-in-law, David Shimron, is also being investigated and has already undergone a number of rounds of questioning. Molcho is suspected of using his connection to Netanyahu to advance Shimron’s interests in the sale.

In an email exchange with The Media Line, Prof. Emanuel Gross, a professor at Netanya Academic College and an expert on criminal law, cautioned that “it is too early to draw any legal consequences from the police investigation against Molcho.

“The fact that he is a very close person to our prime minister does not necessarily point to his personal involvement in this affair, nor does it indicate, at this stage, that [Netanyahu] knew anything about Molcho’s connection to [these] events.”

Molcho spent years traveling on missions around the world as Netanyahu’s diplomatic envoy. Most recently, he led the 2013-2014 peace talks with the Palestinians. Molcho and Shimron are among the senior partners in a law firm that has represented the Netanyahu family for many years.

The Media Line reached out to Molcho’s lawyer, Zvi Agmon, but he declined to comment.

For his part, Molcho told reporters after his marathon questioning session that he has no part in what has been dubbed as “Case 3000” or the “Submarines Affair.”

“Everything I did throughout the years was purely in favor of the country,” he stated, “I wasn’t involved in any way in the purchases that are being investigated.”

Barak Ravid, the diplomatic correspondent for Haaretz newspaper, explained to The Media Line that the case nevertheless “tarnishes Molcho’s reputation, as he was a respected man. This might turn out to be nothing, but it is damaging to him.

“But for Bibi”, he added using Netanyahu’s nickname, “this will be a big blow to lose Molcho.”

The investigation of Molcho comes just two weeks after he abruptly resigned from his post as personal envoy to the prime minister, although he is meant to continue in the role until February. His announcement came a day before the state was set to provide its response to a petition submitted to the High Court of Justice calling on Molcho to suspend himself over an alleged conflict of interest.

Asked how he thought the case affects the deal with Germany, Ravid noted that “it is still not clear whether this will have a direct impact on the submarine deal. But if it turns out any of the suspects did indeed try to benefit from the deal, the Germans will be able to invoke the paragraph in the Memorandum of Understanding that allows them to cancel it.”

Netanyahu is currently not a suspect in the investigation, although he is expected to give testimony in the case this week.

“Bibi says he didn’t know,” Ravid elaborated, “and the attorney general maintains his position that for now, Bibi is not a suspect. But if all these people [surrounding Netanyahu] were involved in something illegal and he knew about it, then this is serious.”

Ravid added that if members of Netanyahu’s inner circle were indeed involved in illegalities without the premier’s knowledge this too would raise serious questions.

Shimron and Molcho’s testimonies will need to stand up against that of Miki Ganor, a former client of Shimron and the Israeli representative of ThyssenKrupp who turned state’s witness in July.

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