Friday, January 22, 2021

Mining Billionaire Beny Steinmetz Found Guilty Of Corruption, Faces Prison Time

Staying in Africa for another story.

From The Globe and Mail, January 22:

Israeli mining magnate sentenced to prison, heavy fine in Swiss corruption trial

In a landmark verdict in one of the mining world’s most high profile legal cases, a Swiss criminal court found Israeli businessman Beny Steinmetz guilty of corruption and forgery on Friday and sentenced him to five years in jail with a sizable fine.

The ruling after a two-week trial is a blow for Steinmetz, a diamond trader, whose pursuit of the world’s richest uptapped deposits of iron ore put him at the centre of a battle that has triggered probes and litigation around the world.

Steinmetz said he would appeal the verdict, which also included a 50 million Swiss francs ($56.48 million) fine.

“It is a big injustice,” he told reporters in the courtyard of the Geneva courthouse.

Steinmetz and two others were variously accused of paying or arranging payment of $10 million in bribes between 2006 and 2010 to Mamadie Toure, whom prosecutors say was one of the wives of the former president Lansana Conte, to obtain exploration permits for iron ore buried beneath the remote Simandou mountains of Guinea and of forging documents to cover it up through a web of shell companies and bank accounts.

Toure, who lives in Florida, could not be reached for comment.

All three defendants denied the charges.

Presiding judge Alexandra Banna said Steinmetz and his co-defendants had used fake accounts and attempted to have incriminating documents destroyed to hide their criminal behaviour.....

.... Steinmetz, 64, a former Geneva resident who moved back to Israel in 2016, has in the past been ranked as a billionaire and one of Israel’s wealthiest men. Asked by the court to estimate his personal fortune, he said it was $50-80 million.....


There are a couple very interesting wrinkles in the Guinea story which may trigger a sense of déjà vu for folks who remember the saga of Roșia Montană.

More to come.


Israeli billionaire Beny Steinmetz to appear at Geneva trial next month to face corruption charges 

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

And as noted in the outro from "Congo investigates possible money laundering in $222 million loan linked to Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler":

Another of the shady characters on the African extractive industries scene.

See also "Mining Kingpin Beny Steinmetz Loses Effort To Overturn $2bn (£1.6bn) Arbitration Judgement" for Beny and the Och-Ziff crowd.
We're probably due for an update from ERC or ENRC pretty soon, just to round out the action.
Maybe check in on Frank Giustra for more of that Kazakh flavor.
One more, from way back in 2012: 

"SECRETIVE group of Chinese Tycoons Plotting to take away the World's Largest undeveloped iron ore project from Rio Tinto" (RTP; VALE; BZM.L)