Diamond-mining tycoon named as Israeli billionaire detained in graft probe

The Israeli mogul is suspected of bribing Guinean public officials in the African country’s capital of Conakry to further his business interests.

December 19, 2016 14:43
1 minute read.

Billionaire Steinmetz under Israel house arrest in Guinea bribery inquiry

Billionaire Steinmetz under Israel house arrest in Guinea bribery inquiry

Israel Police detained and questioned diamond-mining tycoon Beny Steinmetz, one of Israel’s richest businessmen, on suspicion of bribing public officials in Guinea.

The case is part of an ongoing international investigation into the acquisition of one of the world’s largest iron-ore mineral deposits by BSG Resources (BSGR), a mining company founded by Steinmetz. He is suspected of bribing Guinean public officials with tens of millions of dollars to further the interests of the company.

In the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s court on Monday, police sought to extend Steinmetz’s remand, but he was released on restrictive conditions, including house arrest until January 2 and NIS 100 million bail – NIS 50m. in cash and NIS 50m. in assets.

“In light of suspicions of Israeli involvement in alleged criminal actions abroad and pertaining to Israel, the Israel Police conducted a covert investigation following a public investigation conducted abroad that established the suspicions,” the Lahav 433 anticorruption unit said in a statement.

The undercover investigation in cooperation with US, Swiss and Guinean law enforcement is part of an OECD-led effort to combat bribery of public officials around the world. Police said more arrests are expected in the case.

Attorney Yuval Sasson, who is representing Steinmetz, called the accusations an attempt by the president of Guinea, Alpha Condé, to “illegally expropriate the mining rights of BSGR.”

“These are continuous and baseless attempts meant to conceal the corruption aimed at illegally expropriating assets,” said Sasson.

A BSGR spokesman told Reuters Steinmetz does not sit on the company’s board or have an executive role, but “is the beneficiary of the foundation which owns BSG Resources.”

BSGR described Steinmetz as an adviser to the company, which is headquartered in the Channel Islands and is a mining arm of Steinmetz’s business conglomerate.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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