A Geneva court on Friday convicted Israeli diamond and minerals magnate Beny Steinmetz on charges of corruption of foreign agents and forging documents, in a trial over a bid to reap lavish iron ore resources in Guinea.
Steinmetz, one of Israel’s richest men, was sentenced to five years in prison.
Steinmetz was also ordered to pay a $56 million fine. His defense lawyer, Marc Bonnant, said he would appeal the court ruling on Saturday.
Steinmetz, 64, denied the charges. The plot, dating to the mid-2000s, involved Steinmetz’s BSGR Group squeezing out a rival for mining rights for vast iron ore deposits in Guinea’s southeastern Simandou region.
The case centered on alleged payouts of millions to a former wife of late Guinea president Lansana Conte, and exposed the shady and complex world of deal-making and cutthroat competition in the lucrative mining business.
Swiss transparency group Public Eye said Steinmetz employed “opaque structures” to hide the allegedly corrupt schemes that were managed from Geneva, where he lived until 2016.
The group said the case showed how tax havens can be used to conceal questionable, “even illegal” activities in countries with weak governance and regulation.
Header: Israeli diamond magnate Beny Steinmetz is comforted by lawyer Camille Haab after his conviction for corruption linked to mining deals in Guinea, in Geneva on January 22, 2021. Steinmetz was sentenced to five years in jail. (STEFAN WERMUTH / AFP)
Source: Agencies via TOI