More Ofer ships found to have docked in Iran



At least eight ships belonging to Zodiac, company owned by Israeli shipping tycoon, docked in Islamic Republic as recently as 2011, Calcalist reveals. Ofer denies connection to Tanker Pacific

New revelations: Another company owned by Israeli shipping giant Sammy Ofer held ties with Iran, Calcalist revealed on Tuesday. Meanwhile, the Ofer Brothers issued a response denying any connection to Tanker Pacific.

“Ofer Holdings Group wishes to stress it does not have any form of business relationship with Tanker Pacific,” a letter on behalf of the group sent to Chairman of the Economics Committee read. “Our company’s name was accidentally inserted into the selling of the Raffles Park ship and we are working opposite US authorities to remedy this unfortunate mistake by the State Department and lift the sanctions imposed on us.”

The Knesset was scheduled to discuss the trading ties between the Ofer Brothers and the Islamic Republic on Tuesday. Shortly after the hearing began, Committee Chairman MK Carmel Shama-Hacohen (Likud) concluded the meeting saying he had received a note, the contents of which were not divulged. Shama said the note was not written by a political or business element.

Thus far, Ofer has only addressed Tanker Pacific connections to Iran, but a Calcalist check reveals that Ofer Brothers owns another company, Zodiac, whose ships have also docked in Iran, including after the group stopped transporting oil to the country.

Last February, the Kaohsiung YM cargo ship flying the Union Jack docked in the port of Bandar-Abbas. The year 2010 saw two Zodiac ships docking in the same port: the Hyundai Tacoma cargo ship and another chemicals ship named Stanley Park. Both ships flew the British flag and docked in Japan before reaching Iran.

Zodiac ships are careful not to dock in Israel in order to allow free movement in Arab countries. Israeli businessman Amnon Leon is one of the company’ directors.

Sammy Ofer’s spokesman told Calcalist that the company cannot comment due to England’s bank holiday on Monday.

Earlier this week, Calcalist revealed that at least seven oil-tankers belonging to Tanker Pacific, owned by Ofer, have docked in Iran between 2004 and 2007.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in response that “Israel’s policy on Iran is very clear – any and all contact with it is forbidden.”

Former Mossad Chief Meir Dagan addressed the matter and said: “The discussion around the Ofer Brothers’ affair is exaggerated.”

The family said in response: “We wish to stress that we honor the statements made by the Prime Minister’s Office and the Defense Ministry yesterday. We regret any other comments on the affair by alleged family associates which we obviously reject.”

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