US/World News

Israeli shipping magnate, philanthropist Ofer dies

Sammy Ofer

TEL AVIV – Sammy Ofer, the Israeli billionaire who founded the Ofer shipping line, died on Friday, June 3. Ofer, whose primary residence was in Monaco, died at his Tel Aviv condominium.  He was 89.
Born in Romania, his family emigrated to Haifa when he was two. He served with the Royal Navy in World War II and later helped found the Israeli Navy.
Ofer created Israel’s largest holding company, whose interests include the London-based Zodiac shipping company, the Israeli shipping company ZIM; the cruise line Royal Caribbean International Israel Corp., as well as an Israeli TV channel, a bank, and many other companies.
A major donor to Israeli and British cultural institutions, in 2008 he was made an honorary Knight of the British Empire.  According to a family member, he had donated more than $100 million to hospitals and charities in Israel. His wealth, combined with that of his brother, was estimated at $10 billion.
Ofer’s funeral in Tel Aviv on June 5 was attended by hundreds of people, including a long list of dignitaries, such as former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, former United Nations Ambassador Dan Gillerman, former Shin Bet chief Yaakov Peri, Minister Silvan Shalom and Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai.
His death sparked speculation that the billionaire’s shipping company may have been in violation of anti-Iran embargoes or may have secretly been aiding Israeli intelligence – or both.
“I don’t believe he spent one minute acting against the state,” said former Knesset Member Shmuel Flatto-Sharon, who attended the funeral.

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