Jerusalem (AFP) – Israel’s state prosecutor said Thursday he intends to charge the personal lawyer of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with money-laundering in the state’s purchase of submarines from German firm Thyssenkrupp.
Netanyahu has in the past been questioned as a witness in the case but was not considered a suspect.
Nevertheless, with prospects of another snap election looming and the premier already charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust, it is sure to provide ammunition for his political rivals.
Main challenger Benny Gantz, a former Israeli army chief, has repeatedly accused the country’s longest-serving prime minister of profiting personally from the submarine purchase.
Netanyahu denies the accusation.
Israel’s justice ministry said Thursday that subject to pre-indictment hearings for all the suspects, it intended to charge Netanyahu’s personal lawyer and cousin, David Shimron, with money-laundering.
Charges of bribery are pending against another Israeli businessman and the former head of the Israeli navy, a ministry statement said.
Attorney general Avichai Mandelblit last month announced charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust against Netanyahu in three different corruption cases, numbered 1,000, 2,000 and 4,000.
On Thursday he announced his intention to indict on case 3,000, which involved Germany’s 2017 sale of military submarines and other Thyssenkrupp-designed vessels for a total sum of around two billion dollars.
The ministry statement announced indictments against the industrial giant’s local agent Michael Ganor and former navy chief Eliezer Marom, among others.
The Israeli police announced in November 2018 it had enough evidence to charge a number of suspects, including Shimron.
– Election countdown, again –
Thursday’s announcement comes as lawmakers face a looming December 11 deadline to find a solution or see parliament dissolved once again.
An April election ended with neither side in control of enough parliamentary seats to form a viable coalition government.
The same happened in a second poll in September.