Mickey Ganor's secret account

A massive leak from one of the world's biggest private banks has revealed that one of the key figures in the so-called submarine affair, Mickey Ganor, held an account that, at one time, had a balance of $687,000. It appears that this account was not part of the police investigation and is not mentioned in the indictment against him. Ganor's lawyers declined to respond. The account's existence was revealed as part of SuisseSecrets, an international project spearheaded by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project and German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. Some 50 media outlets examined the documents leaked from the famously secretive bank. Shomrim's Uri Blau was the Israeli representative to the project.

A massive leak from one of the world's biggest private banks has revealed that one of the key figures in the so-called submarine affair, Mickey Ganor, held an account that, at one time, had a balance of $687,000. It appears that this account was not part of the police investigation and is not mentioned in the indictment against him. Ganor's lawyers declined to respond. The account's existence was revealed as part of SuisseSecrets, an international project spearheaded by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project and German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. Some 50 media outlets examined the documents leaked from the famously secretive bank. Shomrim's Uri Blau was the Israeli representative to the project.

A massive leak from one of the world's biggest private banks has revealed that one of the key figures in the so-called submarine affair, Mickey Ganor, held an account that, at one time, had a balance of $687,000. It appears that this account was not part of the police investigation and is not mentioned in the indictment against him. Ganor's lawyers declined to respond. The account's existence was revealed as part of SuisseSecrets, an international project spearheaded by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project and German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. Some 50 media outlets examined the documents leaked from the famously secretive bank. Shomrim's Uri Blau was the Israeli representative to the project.

Uri Blau, Washington

Mickey Ganor (Photo: Reuven Castro, Walla). Project logo: OCCRP

February 20, 2022

Summary

Mickey Ganor, one of the key figures in the so-called submarine affair, held hundreds of thousands of dollars in a Credit Suisse bank account at a time that he was working to advance a deal to purchase naval vessels from Germany's ThyssenKrupp. The secret bank account is not mentioned in the indictment against Ganor and it seems that its very existence was not known to police investigating the scandal, even when Ganor was cooperating with them.

The account's existence was revealed as part of SuisseSecrets, an international project spearheaded by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project and German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. Some 50 media outlets examined the documents leaked from the famously secretive bank. Shomrim's Uri Blau was the Israeli representative to the project. While owning a foreign bank account does not violate any laws, any income paid into it or profit made from it must be reported to the Israeli tax authorities.

Ganor, who represented Thyssenkrupp in Israel, was charged in May 2021 with bribery, money laundering and tax offenses, which, according to the indictment, were part of efforts to promote a deal with the German shipbuilder. Also indicted along with Ganor were the then head of the National Security Council, Avriel Bar-Yosef; Netanyahu's former bureau chief, David Sharan; former Keren Hayesod chairman Eliezer Sandberg; businessman Shay Brosh; political adviser Rami Taib; and media adviser Yitzhak Liber. The cases against Netanyahu's former lawyer and family friend David Shimron, and the former commander of the Israeli Navy, Eliezer Marom, were closed.

SuisseSecrets, an international project

10 million euros in commission

At the heart of the affair is the deal between Israel and German corporation ThyssenKrupp for the purchase of three submarines at a cost of $1.8 billion. Then prime minister Netanyahu, who supported the deal, clashed with the Defense Ministry and the defense minister at the time, Moshe Yaalon, who opposed it for various reasons, both financial and operational.

In 2017, when Avigdor Lieberman replaced Yaalon, an initial agreement was signed. However, the deal was put on hold when it was exposed by journalist Raviv Drucker, sparking police investigations in Germany and Israel. When the current Israeli government approved the final agreement in January, there was a public outcry when it became apparent that the price had jumped to around $3 billion – of which the German government would cover approximately $600 million.

Former Prime Minister Netanyahu and former Defence Minister Yaalon attend a ceremony upon the arrival of INS Tanin, September 23, 2014. Tanin is the fourth submarine Israel has acquired, and is the first of three German-built Dolphin AIP class vessels ordered by Israel. Photo: Reuters
The account was opened some two years before Ganor was appointed Thyssenkrupp's Israeli agent, but the bulk of the money in the account was deposited during those years when, according to the indictment, Ganor was engaged in offering and giving bribes to some of the other defendants.

The affair had many elements to it, one of which revolved around a different agreement between Israel and Thyssenkrupp, dating back to 2015, for the purchase of four navy vessels. In relation to this deal, there were allegations of pressure and changes to the Defense Ministry's tender terms, which allowed ThyssenKrupp to compete.

In May 2021, indictments were finally filed in the case after many delays and hearings. According to the charges, in 2009 the deputy head of the National Security Council at the time, Avriel Bar-Yosef sought to get Ganor, who was an old friend from their army service and was, at the time, a private businessman dealing in real estate, appointed as the Israeli agent for ThyssenKrupp. The German corporation did indeed appoint Ganor as its man in Israel and, ever since, he has been promoting deals with Israel. He did so through other people, some of whom – according to the indictment – he bribed and others who he allegedly promised to pay off. According to the indictment, by the time an investigation was launched and ThyssenKrupp replaced Ganor, the German company paid commission totaling more than 10 million euros on the deals it signed.

An appendix to the indictment details the financial transactions between Thyssenkrupp and Ganor. The appendix shows that all the money was deposited to two Israeli companies – M. Ganor Sea (2012) and T.G. Israel Naval Consultancy. However, an additional bank account belonging to Ganor, into which money was paid during that period, does not appear in the indictment and is being revealed here by Shomrim for the first time. It is important to remember that it remains unknown whether this account has anything to do with the submarine affair.

An Armenian citizen

Bank account number 835500644601 was opened on July 17, 2007, under the name of Michael Tuvia Ganor – Ganor's full name as it appears on his ID card. For reasons that remain unclear, he appears in the bank's records as an Armenian citizen. This may very well be a mistake by the bank.

The account was opened some two years before Ganor was appointed Thyssenkrupp's Israeli agent, but the bulk of the money in the account was deposited during those years when, according to the indictment, Ganor was engaged in offering and giving bribes to some of the other defendants.

A logo of Thyssenkrupp AG is pictured at the company's headquarters in Essen, Germany. Photo: Reuters
While the Credit Suisse account is not mentioned in the indictment against Ganor, it is interesting to note that the secretive bank did come up in the context of another investigation involving Ganor and the bank.

The leaked bank records do not provide full details on transactions to and from the account, but they do offer some significant insights throughout the time the account was active. For example, the bank records show that the balance in the account was at its highest toward the end of 2013 when there was $687,000 in it. When the account was closed at the end of 2014, it contained $531,000. The leaked documents do not reveal the source of the money, any transactions that may have occurred while the account was active and where the money was transferred once the account was closed.

While the Credit Suisse account is not mentioned in the indictment against Ganor, it is interesting to note that the secretive bank did come up in the context of another investigation involving Ganor and the bank. During the investigation, it became known that, in 2016, the bank was planning on sending Ganor $140,000 for mediation work he had done. Ganor asked that the money not be transferred directly into his account rather via a third party. The bank agreed. When Ganor came to receive this money from the third party, Bank Hapoalim's compliance officers asked for clarifications about the source of the funds and Ganor issued an invoice to the third party for "financial consultation." It is important to bear in mind that Ganor explained these transfers to the police when he had agreed to be a witness for the state and was cooperating with authorities. He later changed his mind. Police suspected that this deal was unlawful, but no indictment was filed after hearings.

Shomrim sent Ganor's attorney, Eitan Maoz, a long list of questions raised by this article, but he declined to comment.

More SuisseSecrets

The King of Jordan, spymasters and the Italian mafia

The SuisseSecrets leak reveals that the Swiss banking giant held, for years, accounts owned by public figures and politicians – as well as criminals, dictators and people facing international sanctions. In at least some of these cases, the bank should have known that these account holders were problematic and it remains unclear how they passed appropriate due diligence tests.

Among the prominent account holders mentioned in the leak was King Abdullah of Jordan, whose account contained $223 million. Also mentioned is former Venezuelan spy chief Carlos Luis Aguilera Borjas, who was very close to former Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez and who had an account with $8.5 million. Other interesting figures include Antonio Velardo, an Italian citizen who has been accused of laundering huge sums of money for the mafia; relations of former Egyptian security chief Omar Suleiman; and controversial mining magnate Billy Rautenbach, who worked closely with Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe.

Jordan's King Abdullah II arrives to meet Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Photo: Reuters

The leak, which was sent to Süddeutsche Zeitung last year, contains the details of around 16,000 bank accounts opened between the 1940s and 2016. The amount of money held in these accounts reached, at its peak, close to $1 billion. The German newspaper shared the documents with the OCCRP, which then brought in some 150 journalists from 50 countries. Shomrim's Uri Blau was the Israeli representative on the project.

Maíra Martini, who leads Transparency International's research and policy on beneficial ownership transparency and anti-money laundering, told OCCRP that people use the services of banks like Credit Suisse since they provide a cloak of secrecy for account holders. She says that the fact that some of the account holders revealed in the leak have many questions to answer about the source of their wealth highlights the ineffectiveness of any check the bank may or may not have carried out.

Among the leaked accounts are around 250, which have some Israeli connections. Most belong to Israeli citizens, while some are foreign residents who hold dual citizenship and who, for whatever reason, decided to open an account using their Israeli passports. The total amount of money in these accounts is close to $2.8 billion, although the vast majority of the money - $2.6 billion – belongs to the family of a Ukrainian oligarch who, while holding Israeli citizenship, does not reside in Israel.

Among the Israelis revealed to be holding Credit Suisse accounts is a prominent Israeli-Arab family involved in construction and industry. At one stage, the balance in that account was $16 million. Most of the other Israeli account holders who appear in the list held accounts that contained tens of thousands of dollars at their peak. It is interesting to note that there are several businessmen who operated in Africa, including those involved in the arms trade, and around ten physicians from various disciplines who do not appear to have any connection between them. Again, it is important to point out that holding a foreign bank account is not a criminal offense if its owners meet the requirements and pay taxes.

Credit Suisse has an Israeli office, established in 2007, which employs more than 40 people who provide private banking and investment services.

In response to the investigation, Credit Suisse said that it "operates in accordance with the relevant local and international laws and regulations. In recent years, the bank has taken significant measures in line with financial reforms across the sector and in Switzerland. These include considerable further investments in compliance and combating financial crime."

The bank also stated that it remains committed to safeguarding the secrecy of its clients. "As a matter of law, we cannot answer questions about specific people and whether or not they were clients of the bank."

This is a summary of shomrim's story published in Hebrew.
To read the full story click here.