sami ofer 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Israeli shipping magnate Sammy Ofer, who was found dead Friday morning inside
his Tel Aviv apartment just weeks after the US accused his company of trading
with Iran, will be buried at 4 p.m. Sunday at Tel Aviv’s Trumpeldor Cemetery. He
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Ofer Brothers, established by Sammy and Yuli Ofer in the 1950s,
and one of the world’s largest shipping companies, strongly denied any
wrongdoing after the State Department alleged it had sold an oil tanker to
Tehran last September, violating international sanctions.
The cause of
Ofer’s death was not announced, although he had been battling a serious illness
for some time, according to a statement released by the family on
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu expressed his condolences over
the billionaire businessman’s passing on Friday, saying, “Ofer was a true
Zionist” in everything that he did, and “never forgot his responsibility to
Ofer was born in Romania immigrating with his family to Mandate
Palestine two years later. He served in the Royal Navy during World War II and
the Israeli Sea Corps during the War of Independence in 1948.
finishing his army service, he became a shipping agent with Eastern
Conglomerate, buying his first ship in 1950. Ofer vastly expanded his enterprise
for the remainder of his life, and became the owner of one of the largest
privateshipping companies in the world, valuing nearly $3.6 billion.
Integrated Shipping Services, a subsidiary of the Ofer Brothers Group, is
Israel’slargest holding company, and the 10th largest shipping company in the
According to the 2011 Forbes billionaires list, Ofer was Israel’s
richest man, with a net worth of $10.3 billion.
In his final few weeks,
however, the business tycoon was at the center of a major controversy after US
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that the Ofer Brothers Group was
one of seven companies to be sanctioned over trade with Iran.
was accused of providing an $8.65 million tanker to Islamic Republic of Iran
Ofer Brothers Group denied it ever sold ships to
The government has long urged tough action against Iran, accusing
the Islamic Republic of working to build a nuclear bomb. But authorities reacted
cautiously to the US move, fuelling speculation about possible links between the
brothers and Israel’s intelligence services.
A specially organized
meeting at the Knesset Economics Committee over the scandal was abruptly halted
live on television after committee chair MK Carmel Shama-Hacohen (Likud)
received a mysterious note, the contents of which have yet to be
“Let’s just be clear the note is not from a political figure
and not from a business figure,” Shama-Hacohen said, leaving open the
possibility of an appeal by the defense establishment.
Outside his career
in the shipping industry, Ofer is said to have been one of the world’s top art
collectors, with a penchant for works by impressionist masters. He was reported
to have paid $40.3 million for a painting by Vincent van Gogh that went to
auction in 2006.
Ofer is survived by his wife and two sons, Idan and
Eyal, seven grandchildren, and a great-granddaughter.
His family has said
that Sammy Ofer’s companies would continue to operate under the guidance of his
children and grandchildren.Jerusalem Post staff and Reuters contributed
to this report.