(photo credit: INGIMAGE / ASAP)
Israel Police detained on Monday five businessmen on suspicion of money laundering, fraud, false registration of corporate documents, breach of trust, bribery and obstruction of justice.
It was reported that one of the five is Israeli billionaire businessman Benny Steinmetz, and that the FBI and the Swiss police also took part in the investigation. Steinmetz has been under investigation for several years in part for his involvement in shady real-estate dealings his company has allegedly conducted in the African country of Guinea.
Israeli authorities put Steinmetz under house arrest last December, releasing him two weeks later without charge, in a probe of bribery allegations relating to the activities of his mining firm BSG Resources in Africa. BSGR denied any wrongdoing.
At the time, police said he and other Israelis living abroad were alleged to have paid tens of millions of dollars to senior public officials in the West African state to advance their business.
According to a police statement, investigators questioned several people who are suspected of carrying out a coordinated and systematic mechanism of fraud - particularly forging documents - mainly in the real estate field, in foreign countries. It was said that they did so in order to transfer and launder money.
The police also confirmed that the investigation is being conducted with international cooperation, and with the Israeli Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing Prohibition Authority.
The ones involved are suspected of varying felonies and during the police operation this morning their homes and offices were searched, the statement adds.