Israel probing Ofer Brothers over Iran ties


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s attorney general is investigating the Ofer Brothers Group, which was sanctioned by the United States for dealings with Iran.

The Ofer group was sanctioned for its role in providing a tanker valued at $8.65 million to an Iranian shipping company. The Ofer brothers denied knowledge of involvement in the sale, saying the ship had been sold to a third party before it was sold to Iran.

At least eight ships belonging to companies owned by the Ofer group also are alleged to have docked in Iranian ports to load and offload cargo in recent years, according to reports.

The attorney general’s investigation reportedly opened after requests from several government bodies.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated Sunday that it is forbidden for Israelis or Israeli companies to maintain contact with Iran. During a meeting of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Netanyahu said the Ofer group had never been given special approval to enter an Iranian port. He said he learned about the allegations from the media.

A Knesset committee was scheduled to discuss the issue on Tuesday afternoon.

The Ofers are Israel’s richest family, with a net worth estimated by Forbes at $10.3 billion.

Iran also vehemently denied having any deals with Israeli companies or that Israeli ships have docked in Iranian ports. 

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