Monday, May 25, 2020

"Mining Billionaire Gets Help From Ex-Spies in Bitter Legal Fight" (VALE)

No, silly, not Steele and Deripaska these guys are even worse.*
From Bloomberg via Yahoo Finance, May 22:

Black Cube, the private intelligence agency run by former Israeli spies, spent months setting up companies around the world. Offices, websites and employees were painstakingly put in place -- all part of a sting targeting former executives at Brazilian mining giant Vale SA.
The Black Cube operation, made public in a court filing Thursday and described by people familiar with it, represents the latest escalation in a bitter fight between Vale and mining billionaire Beny Steinmetz.

What started in Guinea as a partnership in one of the world’s richest mineral deposits has devolved into a globe-spanning dispute that sheds light on how fortunes can be made and lost in the world of African mining.

As surging Chinese demand for raw materials spurred a race for assets in Africa, Steinmetz acquired the rights to an iron-ore project known as Simandou in 2008. Vale bought a 51% stake about a year later. Then a new president in Guinea seized the asset back after a corruption probe -- and Vale is pursuing Steinmetz for compensation.

While Steinmetz has always denied wrongdoing, he says in the filing that Vale suspected all along that his original acquisition of the assets could have been problematic. Vale has said in court documents it didn’t know.

Steinmetz says the sting operation -- detailed in court filings that include a declaration from one of Black Cube’s founders and transcripts of conversations with former Vale executives -- showed the Brazilian company was suspicious before it signed the deal. That undermines Vale’s claim to compensation, he argues.
A spokesman for Vale, which was awarded $2 billion in a London arbitration last year that it is still trying to collect, declined to comment.

“This report just confirmed what we were saying from day one. Vale knew everything, there was no surprise for them. Now we have the full proof of that. I was happy to see that, because until now we were fighting and no one believed us,” Steinmetz said in an interview with Bloomberg News this week.

For almost a decade, Steinmetz has faced legal challenges and probes over how he obtained the rights to the deposit in Guinea. The Guinean government withdrew charges of corruption against him after a seven-year dispute. He denies any wrongdoing.
Last year the London Court of International Arbitration found that Steinmetz’s BSG Resources Ltd. made fraudulent representations to Vale when it sold the mine stake. Steinmetz’s appeal was thrown out.

The court ordered BSGR to pay the Brazilian company $2 billion for its losses in the joint venture. To collect the cash it is owed under that order, Vale has sought to freeze Steinmetz’s assets and is asking a U.S. judge to help it secure evidence about investments he and others allegedly made in New York real estate.

‘Nose Closed’
In a conversation with Black Cube’s undercover operatives -- according to a transcript filed with the court documents -- former Vale executive Jose Carlos Martins said he’d had suspicions about the deal. While he recommended Vale go ahead with the purchase, “I’m proposing it with my nose closed because I smell something wrong,” he said, according to the transcript.

Martins, who spent almost a decade running the company’s iron ore business, didn’t respond to requests for comment.
In the transcript, Martins compared the deal to a beautiful woman with a sexually-transmitted disease....

Okay, that last bit sounds like Steele.
Seriously though when the Wall Street Journal is writing stories like:
Black Cube: The Bumbling Spies of the 'Private Mossad'
It's almost as bad as the residents of the Retired Spook's Home making fun of Peter Strozk:
"Peter and Lisa sitting in a tree, T-E-X-T-I-N-G..."
[Now Strozk was a pretty big deal,  He was Chief of the Counterespionage Section of the FBI.
He was also the #2 of the entire FBI Counterintelligence Division.

And he left 50,000 text messages with his paramour, DOJ and FBI attorney Lisa Page, laying around.
50,000 mash notes to sweetie-pie.
Right there, in the phone, and on a server, where any junior-grade investigator could find them. Or worse.

His wife found them] 

Previously on Steinmetz and VALE:
Mining Kingpin Beny Steinmetz Loses Effort To Overturn $2bn (£1.6bn) Arbitration Judgement