So farewell then, Sami Ofer

November 24, 2016 23:01

I know shipping magnate Sami Ofer had a good innings, dying at 89, but it's a bit spooky that his death comes only days after his shipping company was tied to sanctions-busting in Iran. Spookier still is the fact that a debate in a committee on the Iran dealings was curtailed sharpish by the committee head after he "received a note".

n his final few weeks, however, the business tycoon was 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 slapped with sanctions for 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.

To add to controversy, a specially organized meeting at the Knesset Economics Committee over the scandal was immediately halted after chair MK Carmel Shama-Hacohen (Likud) received a mysterious not, the contents of which have not yet been divulged.

Now I'm entertained by conspiracy theories as much as the next cynic, but I think Richard Silverstein is going a bit to far here.

Today, the company itself conceded that it had performed services in the national interest at the request of Israeli intelligence:
According to the source close to the Ofer family, who asked to remain anonymous because of the sensitivity of the matter, Israeli officials have been assisted in a number of cases in recent years by the Ofer family’s business activities in the Persian Gulf for “national needs.”
“It’s no secret that the State of Israel sometimes seeks the help of business people,” the source said. “Some agree and some don’t.”
As I’ve reported, it’s not so much that Ofer Brothers is an independent company which happened to agree to help Israeli intelligence. It’s more like the company that is completely intertwined with the military and intelligence, with senior officers of both the IDF and Mossad in key corporate leadership roles. It might be more likely to say that Ofer Brothers is an Israeli intelligence asset, a company at the service of the security forces.
I wrote yesterday of the distinct possibility of the current Israeli national security advisor, Yaakov Amidror, one of the company’s former board members who was handsomely paid for his services as well, having caused the adjournment of a Knesset committee hearing into the illegal Iran trade. It pays to have friends in high, and the right places when you need them.
Former Mossad chief, Meir Dagan, continued for the second day, his publicity blitz on behalf of Ofer, saying that while he wasn’t shilling for the company, it didn’t do anything illegal anyway:
…The former Mossad chief said that he was “not the Ofer family’s defender, I am not their representative, I’m just concerned about the State of Israel.”
“There’s no law saying you can’t dock in Iran. I’m worried about the thousands of Ofer family workers who could get hurt by the issue and their livelihood means a lot to me,” Dagan said, adding: “They did not trade with Iran. They’re a transportation company. And besides, there’s no boycott on Iran.”

But let's remember Ofer for the good he did, donating millions to a new wing at the Maritime Museum, in Greenwich - the largest single donation to a British museum - because of his appreciation for serving in the Royal Navy during the Second World War.

November 24, 2016 23:01

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