JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israeli police on Thursday recommended bribery charges against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s lawyer and five other suspects in a $2 billion (£1.5 billion) sale of German Thyssenkrupp submarines to Israel.
Netanyahu was questioned by police in the investigation but, in a statement announcing its conclusion, police reiterated that the prime minister is not a suspect.
The deal for three submarines and four patrol vessels has been the subject of a corruption investigation since 2016 after Israel’s Channel 10 TV reported that David Shimron, Netanyahu’s personal lawyer and a distant relative, also represented the local agent of Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems, raising concerns of a conflict of interest.
“I did not commit any crime,” Shimron told Israel’s YNet news website, which asked him about the police recommendations to prosecutors and posted an audio clip of his comments.
Shimron’s office and a spokesman both declined immediate comment when contacted by Reuters. The spokesman said a statement would be issued later.
“Our information comes so far only from the press, we do not yet have any confirmed information,” a spokesman for Thyssenkrupp said in a statement. “As soon as we know all the facts, we will examine further measures within the framework of legal possibilities.”
The other suspects facing possible indictment include retired senior naval officers and former government officials.
Netanyahu has been named as a suspect in three other corruption investigations. In February, police recommended charging him with bribery in the first two. Israel’s attorney-general is weighing whether to indict him.
(Reporting by Jeffery Heller; Additional reporting by Christoph Steitz; Editing by Janet Lawrence)