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Knesset Committee Nixes Investment in Firms Trading with Iran

Ministerial Committee approves a bill which prohibits investment in corporations that deal with Iran. The penalty: 1 year in prison and a fine.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 6/6/2011, 4:09 AM / Last Update: 6/6/2011, 6:12 AM

Knesset

The Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved on Sunday a bill submitted by the chairman of the Knesset’s Finance Committee, MK Carmel Shama Hacohen, which prohibits investment in corporations that maintain a business relationship with the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The bill states that anyone who violates the law would be sentenced to one year in prison and a fine of five million shekels, or three times the expected profit - whichever is higher.

It has been speculated that the reason for the bill is the recent political and media storm over the Ofer Brothers Group shipping company, Tanker Pacific, which was accused in the past week of having had its ships docked in Iran.

The story came to light after the United States slapped sanctions on the Ofer Brothers Group over suspicions that it had violated sanctions against trade with Iran.

However, MK Shama Hacohen denied Sunday that he submitted the bill because of the Ofer Brothers affair, saying: “the bill was submitted months ago and its support by the government proves that the uproar over the Tanker Pacific affair is because of Iran and not because of the Ofer Brothers.”

Shama Hacohen added that “Israel must fall in line with the international community led by the U.S., and join in the effort to halt the Iranian nuclear program which threatens our existence.”

Meanwhile, it was still unclear on Sunday why Shama Hacohen had stopped the Finance Committee’s session to discuss the Ofer affair last Tuesday. Shama Hacohen had received a note during the meeting, after which he ended the meeting, but he refused to divulge its contents.

Sources in the Knesset were quoted as saying on Sunday that “there was no legal or defense-related motive to prevent the session from taking place in the Finance Committee.”

The London Times reported Sunday that the Ofer Brothers ships that reportedly docked in Iran were actually carrying IDF choppers for secret missions that may have included surveillance on Iran’s nuclear sites.