Former Zim Asia president Yigal Dafni has criticized the conduct of the Ofer family in the sale of an oil tanker by Tanker Pacific Management (Singapore) Pte Ltd. to the Iranians. Dafni, who now owns his own shipping company, told "Globes", "If the Ofer family had shown to the Americans a clause in the sales contract prohibiting subsequent sale of the ship to the Iranians, I think that the Americans would have accepted this, even if the tanker subsequently reached Iran via other companies.
"The problem is that the Ofer family did nothing. They didn’t even take the first step. It's true that you can never know where something will end up, but you did everything you could as far as you're concerned. But to say now, 'We did nothing because we didn’t know' - that's unacceptable. Is this is pretending innocence? Absolutely."
Dafni worked at Zim Integrated Shipping Services Ltd. for 40 years, until 2005. He has a wealth of experience working in shipping with Muslim countries with no diplomatic relations with Israel. A ruling issued in Singapore involving a dispute between him and Zim, states that Zim operates in countries such as Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, and Indonesia "by establishing companies that have no official connection to it", or by setting up offshore companies. The ruling states that "Dafni entered these countries under a special arrangement in which his entry was not officially recorded."
It turns out that one of the companies through which Zim operated was owned by Indonesians with ties to the top of the country's government.
In February, Dafni told "Globes", "We had many layers of camouflage. In most of these cases, we didn’t operate under Zim's brand name. When it appeared in various reports, we denied it."
Dafni added, however, that Iran was taboo. He once served as captain of Zim tankers that anchored in Iran, but he says that that happened before the 1979 revolution, and that Zim subsequently severed all ties with the Islamic republic.
"Did the Ofer family know or not know that the Tanker Pacific tanker was about to reach Iranian hands? It's hard to know," says Dafni. "But the Americans are right when they say, 'It's your duty to know.' Either include in the contract a clause stipulating that the tanker cannot reach Iranian hands, or carry out every possible check to ensure that it doesn’t."
The Ofer family said in response that they declined to comment on unsubstantiated remarks.
The Knesset Economic Affairs Committee is due to discuss the Ofer family's business and its relationship with Iran at next Tuesday's meeting.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on May 29, 2011
© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2011