Israeli investigators have recommended that prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s lawyer and confidante be indicted for allegedly mediating bribes in a $2bn purchase of military submarines.

David Shimron, who is also Mr Netanyahu’s cousin and a lawyer for his wife, Sara, used his relationship with Mr Netanyahu to help ThyssenKrupp close the deal for five submarines, Israeli investigators at the Lahav 433 Unit said in a statement.

Mr Shimron was paid 270,000 shekels, about $74,000, by the Israeli representative for the German corporation for “opening doors”, the investigators alleged. The representative, Michael Ganor, has turned state’s witness, the statement said, and will serve a 12-month sentence, pay a 10m shekel fine and be tried separately for tax alleged fraud.

Mr Netanyahu’s former chief of staff, David Sharan, also helped the ThyssenKrupp representative, and was paid 130,000 shekels over three years by other businessmen, in order “to disguise and to blur the connection between him and Mr Ganor,” the police alleged. Police recommended he be charged with bribery and fraud.

Mr Netanyahu was questioned by police in what’s called the “Case 3000,” but he was not a suspect.

Nevertheless, the allegation that those within his inner circle were receiving bribes raises the political stakes for him as he prepares for elections next year. The police have already recommended that he be indicted in two separate cases — one for allegedly receiving expensive cigars and champagne from businessmen that he then did favours for, and another for allegedly making secret deals with newspaper publishers in exchange for favourable coverage.

Mr Netanyahu has denied the allegations previously, blaming the investigations on a conspiracy and describing it as a witch-hunt.

“The attempts of the left to connect the submarine affair to prime minister Netanyahu have crashed into reality,” the prime minister’s party, Likud, said in a statement.

ThyssenKrupp said:

Our information comes so far only from the press, we do not yet have any confirmed information. As soon as we know all the facts, we will examine further measures within the framework of the legal possibilities.

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