AFRICANGLOBE – Benny Steinmetz, an Israeli diamond magnate and one of the world’s richest men, was arrested Monday on suspicion of money laundering and bribing Guinea officials to obtain half the rights to a valuable mining deposit in the country.
Steinmetz’s company BSGR won the rights to Guinea’s Simandou iron ore deposit after developing close ties with the country’s late president, Lansana Conte. Mamadie Toure, Conte’s fourth wife, has been working with an FBI investigation into claims that Steinmetz bribed her late husband to the tune of millions of dollars.
BSGR spent $165 million in exploration costs on the Simandou mine, selling half of its holdings in 2010 to Vale, a Brazilian multinational metals and mining corporation. An investigation into the BSGR-Vale joint venture was launched by the new Guinean government under President Alpha Conde.
Times of Israel reported that Steinmetz was questioned Monday by Israel’s anti-corruption unit. According to Israeli police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld, Steinmetz has been placed under house arrest for two weeks.
“It is BSGR’s strong belief that these allegations of bribery by the Government of Guinea are not only baseless, but are a systematic attempt by the Government of Guinea to cover up the endemic corruption which has blighted this country for a number of years,” the company said in a statement.
Nip Global, an Israeli company, was also fined 4.5 million NIS ($1.15 million) last week by the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s court on charges of bribing a Lesotho government official.
By: Menachem Rephun