Netanyahu: Sammy Ofer 'was a true Zionist'

89-year-old Ofer Bros. Group co-owner found dead in TA apartment; businessman spent final weeks embroiled in controversy over Iran ties.

By JPOST.COM STAFF, REUTERS
June 3, 2011 16:23
2 minute read.
Sammy Ofer (right) with brother Yuli in 1999

ofer brothers_311 reuters. (photo credit: Reuters)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later

Businessman Sammy Ofer was found dead Friday morning inside his Tel Aviv apartment. He was 89 years old.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu expressed his condolences over the billionaire Israeli businessman's passing on Friday, saying, "Ofer was a true Zionist" in everything that he did, and "never forgot his responsibility to others."

RELATED:
Mystery note halts Knesset debate on Ofer Bros
Israel company sanctioned by US for ties to Iran 
Sammy Ofer tops Israelis in 'Forbes' rich list


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.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.


Ofer 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 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 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.

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. 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.

JPOST VIDEOS THAT MIGHT INTEREST YOU:


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 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.

"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 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.

Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>

Related Content

Riot
August 31, 2014
Rioting resumes throughout east Jerusalem Saturday night

By DANIEL K. EISENBUD