Israeli business tycoon Sammy Ofer, whose shipping empire is at the centre of an investigation over trading with Iran, has died after a long illness, aged 89.
An Ofer Brothers group company, Singapore-based Tanker Pacific, was the subject of US sanctions row last month.
It was accused of selling an oil tanker to Iran. The brothers denied any wrongdoing, allegedly saying they did not realise the buyer had been a front for an Iranian company, reported Reuters.
The Israeli government has long urged tough action against Iran, accusing it of building a nuclear bomb. But authorities reacted cautiously to the US move, fuelling speculation about possible links between the brothers and intelligence services, the news agency said.
The Monaco-based Ofer Brothers group controls a network of companies worldwide, including Zim, Zodiac and Tanker Pacific.
Israeli newspapers have reported that besides the controversial tanker sale, a number of the group's ships had docked in Iran.
Reports suggested that these were units of Tanker Pacific’s tanker fleet, which called at Iranian ports, including Kharg Island, between 2004 and 2007, plus vessels belonging to Zodiac.
Lawyers met last Tuesday to discuss legal aspects of the case, but the meeting, which went out live on television, was adjourned within minutes after the chairman received a mysterious note from an aide.
Ofer was born in Romania in 1922 and his family moved to the territory that was to become modern Israel shortly afterwards. His father established a small shipping company that his sons developed into a world leader, Reuters reported.
The World's Billionaires
#109 Sammy Ofer & family
Press-shy Israeli and his family own a vast global shipping empire, plus interests in banking and real estate.
Israel SunNet Worth: $6.5 bil
Fortune: Self Made
Country Of Citizenship: Israel
Residence: Monte Carlo
Marital Status: Married, 2 children
Press-shy Israeli and his family own a vast global shipping empire, plus interests in banking and real estate. Announced formal retirement last September and returned to Israel, becoming permanent resident. Two sons active in dad's vast empire: Son Eyal, who runs real estate business and is a director of cruise line Royal Caribbean, splits his time between Monaco, New York and London; son Idan, based in Israel, is chairman of Israel Corp., which holds strategic stakes in chemicals, energy, technology and shipping (through Zim Shipping). Owns extensive collection of impressionist, post-impressionist and modern paintings. Awarded an honorary knighthood by Queen Elizabeth for his services to U.K. maritime heritage.