German conglomerate Thyssenkrupp, which is at the center of the submarine affair investigation, knew of the ties between attorney David Shimron and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but it did not raise suspicion because Shimron was presented to them as Miki Ganor's lawyer, the head of the company's legal department, Dr. Donatus Kaufmann, said Thursday.
"Shimron's connection to the prime minister was familiar, but we were not the ones who chose him—Ganor did," Kaufmann said at a press conference about the company's economic performance and forecasts for the coming year. "A lot of people know each other in Israel."
Shimron arrived at Tenenkrupp's offices as Ganor's attorney to discuss the details of Ganor's contract and helped him change the details of his commission, the company said.
Tenenkrupp officials reiterated the claim that the internal investigation conducted by the company found no evidence of corruption, and the results of the investigation were only partial due to the legal restrictions imposed on it, which prevented the questioning of Tysenkrupp's sales representative in Israel, Miki Ganor.
Referring to the 10.3 million euros paid to Ganor, Kaufmann said that "the explanation for the commission is the long process involved in mediating such transactions, which sometimes lasts upwards of ten years."
Following the lessons learned from the submarine affair, the company's internal procedures regarding the employment of a sales agent were tightened.
"First, we are going to seriously examine, for every county, whether a sales agent is needed at all, or it is possible to manage the contract through company employees," Kaufmann explained.
"If a local agent is contacted, we have added an outside company to conduct a more serious background check of the selected agent," he added.
However, he said a background check was done about Ganor at the time as well, but no suspicious details were found.
Thyssenkrupp says its local sales representative positions in Israel are also being examined.
"Wherever possible, we will work with our employees, but this is not possible everywhere," Kaufmann said. "The local sales representative position is sometimes necessary and will continue to exist."
Regarding the signing of the memorandum of understanding between the German government and the Israeli government, the company heads made clear they had no part in the process and were unable to assess whether the agreement was actually implemented.
"We are waiting for the results of the investigation," they said.
As to the clause added to the memorandum by the German government, according to which Germany is entitled to cancel the agreement unilaterally at any time if corruption is discovered, Thyssenkrupp CEO Dr. Heinrich Hiesinger said it reflects his company's position.
"We agree with the clause added to the memorandum, and it correctly reflects our policy on the matter," he said. "It is better to give up business than to risk involvement in dirty business."