Beny Steinmetz, Mining Tycoon Arraigned Over Corruption Allegations

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Beny is a French Israeli nationality, with a portfolio in real estate and diamond mining. He is a member of the Board of Directors of BSGR Mining Company with an advisor’s role. BSGR company is a natural resource company that majors in gas, metal, and oil mining. The company has secured a high reputation in the World for its estimated output.

For a long time now, the Government of the Republic of Guinea and Mr. Steinmetz have been involved in endless confrontations over the deposits at Simandou in Guinea. Simandou mining site has one of the largest ores in the World. The clash started around December 2008, when Guinea awarded a BSGR permit to prospect the iron in the site for $160 million. However, Steinmetz, the company’s chief advisor, sold 51%, i.e., about half of the ore for $2.5 billion, netting a massive gain.

At that time, such a deal was a massive jackpot. Therefore, many people started questioning whether the Guineans who did the agreement were illiterate, criminals, or even both. Meanwhile,  while addressing the Financial Times issue, Steinmetz stated there was nothing that he did wrong. He even claimed that people never liked success, and for him, it was customary to pursue opportunities aggressively.

Due to suspected corruption claims, the Department of Justice in the US dispatched its FBI to investigate BSGR’s acquisition of the rights to extract half of the iron ore in Guinea. It was not long before the FBI established a case on the company, alleging corruption and bribery.

Denying the Allegations

This month, the US authorities arraigned Mr. Steinmetz in court over alleged corruption linked to Guinea’s mining deal. The billionaire denied the claims of paying bribes to obtain mining exploration permits in Guinea. He stated how generous his company had been with Guinea.

Previously, a court in Romania ordered Steinmetz to be sentenced to five years in prison for failure to attend court proceedings over money laundering allegations. Therefore, the tycoon has been involved in several corruption cases.

Following the Guinea mine’s ongoing case, the Swiss Prosecutors stated that Mr. Steinmetz paid $10 million through Swiss Bank accounts as a bribe to gain rights to the ore deposits in Simandou. His lawyer Mr. Bonnant reported that they would plead his innocence.

According to the prosecutors, Mr. Steinmetz managed to pay the bribe to the Guinea officials with the late President Lansana Cote’s wife’s help. They also alleged that Mr. Steinmetz had forged documents linked to the deal. In Geneva, the BBC’s Imogen Foulkes reported that Mamadi Conte, late Conte’s wife, agreed to testify in favor of the prosecution. Although she has not yet commented on the trial, she is unlikely to show up in court during the trial.

During a press briefing, Steinmetz’s lawyer told Reuters that his client never had any association with Mrs. Mamadi, that’s inclusive of paying her a cent. He also added that Mamadie was not married to Mr. Conte hence was not a public agent.

The Irony

It is ironic that despite the vast natural resources in Guinea, it is one of the poorest countries in Africa. And more so, it has gained a little from the riches of Simandou iron ore.

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