TEL AVIV, Israel, June 3 (UPI) -- Sammy Ofer, an Israeli shipping magnate, died Friday at age 89 in the midst of a scandal over his company's ties to Iran.
The U.S. State Department put sanctions on the Ofer Brothers Group May 24, saying it and its Singapore subsidiary, Tanker Pacific, sold an oil tanker last year to Iran, The New York Times reported. Iran uses energy income to finance its nuclear program.
That same day, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was addressing the U.S. Congress, warning of an Iranian nuclear threat.
Haaretz later reported that at least 13 Tanker Pacific ships have docked in Iran in the last decade. The company said it stopped trading in April 2010 to obey the international sanctions regime.
An Ofer spokesman would not comment Friday, saying the affair was too sensitive to discuss publicly, but family associates have suggested Israel cleared docking their ships in Iran.
Several powerful Israeli security figures have ties to the Ofer companies, and a Knesset committee hearing on the case Tuesday was stopped suddenly when a note was handed to the chairman.
Ofer, listed as the richest man in Israel, died at his Tel Aviv home Friday, his family said.