Ofer Bros: We sold tanker to Dubai company

Ofer Brothers insists that US penalties against it are unjustified and are working to have the sanctions lifted.

Israeli sources told "Globes" that the Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Foreign Affairs believe that the US charges against Ofer Brothers Group are based on a misunderstanding. The sources said that Israeli officials are in contact with the US State Department to clarify the issue and to get the Ofer Brothers' Singapore company, Tanker Pacific Ltd., off the list of companies suspected of violating the sanctions against Iran.

Sources inform ''Globes'' that Ministry of Defense officials contacted representatives of Ofer Brothers in Israel for clarifications. The company officials said that the ship was sold to a Dubai-registered company called Crystal Shipping, which did not, and does not, appear on any blacklist of companies that the US administration bans trading with.

Yesterday, the State Department placed Tanker Pacific on a watch list for selling an oil tanker, Raffles Park, to Republic Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) for $8.65 million in October 2010. The ship was renamed "Emma". Six other companies were also put on the watch list.

The State Department said, "These are the first sanctions imposed by the United States for refined-petroleum related activities under Iran Sanctions Act since it was amended by Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act. By imposing these sanctions, the Secretary sends a stern and clear message to companies around the world: those who continue to irresponsibly support Iran's energy sector and help facilitate Iran’s efforts to evade US sanctions will face serious consequences."

Concerning the case of Ofer Brothers, the State Department said, "We believe that Tanker Pacific and Ofer Brothers Group failed to exercise due diligence and did not heed publicly available and easily obtainable information that would have indicated that they were dealing with IRISL. The Secretary will hold companies accountable, as required by the Iran Sanctions Act, when they know or “should have known” they were providing sanctionable goods or services to Iran. With the imposition of today’s sanctions, Tanker Pacific and Ofer Brothers Group are barred from securing financing from the Export-Import Bank of the United States, from obtaining loans over $10 million from US financial institutions, and from receiving US export licenses."

Ofer Brothers said in response, "We have never sold a tanker to Iran. The authorized agencies of the State of Israel will confirm our statement in full."

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on May 25, 2011

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2011

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