NEW YORK - Ira Rennert, a billionaire owner of an industrial conglomerate, closely connected to Israel and the right wing of the political map, has launched a legal battle against Dead Sea Magnesium (DSM), the New York Post tabloid daily reported yesterday.
Through his Renco Group, Rennert owns a controlling share of the Magnesium Corporation of America (MagCorp), the largest U.S. producer of magnesium, which entered bankruptcy proceedings several months ago. According to the New York Post article, Rennert is suing his Israeli competitor for allegedly selling magnesium at below-market prices ("dumping") and harming MagCorp's business.
Dead Sea Magnesium denies it is using Israeli government support to underprice the magnesium market, as Rennert charges. Indeed, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has determined that MagCorp did not reach a state of bankruptcy due to unfair competition from the Israel industry, but rather because Rennert had funneled the company's money into his own pockets. The EPA has also filed a number of suits against MagCorp, calling it one of the largest polluters in the country.
Rennert has asked the U.S. Trade Commission to prevent Dead Sea Magnesium from doing business in America. The New York Post claims that the Trade Commission found that the Israeli company is indeed dumping magnesium into the American market and has imposed a 45 percent tariff on its products. Dead Sea Magnesium is appealing this ruling, since this high customs duty will prevent it from exporting to the United States. The New York Post report said that Trade and Industry Minister Dalia Itzik tried unsuccessfully to mediate this issue.
Rennert has contributed tens of millions of dollars to various Israeli groups over the years and supported former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The tycoon also made headlines when he decided to build the largest residence on Long Island in the Hamptons area. The house is planned to include 29 bedrooms and 25 bathrooms. There has even been some speculation that he plans to build a yeshiva at the site.