ofer brothers_311 reuters.
(photo credit: Reuters)
Businessman Sammy Ofer was found dead Friday morning inside his Tel Aviv apartment. He was 89 years old.
Ofer, one of the owners and founders of the Ofer Brothers Group, a major
international shipping company, was at the center of a major
controversy the past few weeks since the US slapped sanctions on the
company, claiming the group sold an oil tanker to Iran.
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was born in Romania in 1922, 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.
After finishing his army service, he became a shipping agent with
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 private shipping companies in the world, valuing nearly
$3.6 billion. Zim Integrated Shipping Services, a subsidiary of the Ofer
Brothers Group, is Israel's largest holding company, and the 10th
largest shipping company in the world.
According to the 2011 Forbes billionaires list, Ofer was Israel's richest man with a net worth of $10.3 billion.
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. The company was accused of providing an $8.65 million tanker to the Islamic Republic.
Ofer Brothers Group denied it ever sold ships to Iran.
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 intelligence services.
A specially organized meeting at the Knesset Economics Committee over the scandal was abruptly halted live on television after chair MK Carmel Shama-Hacohen (Likud) received a mysterious note, the contents of which have yet to be divulged.
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 be 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.
His funeral will be held Sunday at the Trumpeldor Cemetery in Tel Aviv, Israel Radio reported. His family has said that the Sammy Ofer's companies would continue to operate under the guise of Ofer's children and grandchildren.
Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.