Israeli businessman Beny Steinmetz has been found guilty of fraud by a Swiss court in Geneva and sentenced to five years in prison and a 50 million Swiss franc fine. Steinmetz, 64, whose wealth is estimated at $1 billion, was convicted of offenses including, “giving a bribe to a senior foreign public figure,” as well as “fraud and forging corporate documents.” Steinmetz says he will appeal the verdict.
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The Swiss court ruled that the company to which Steinmetz is associated Beny Steinmentz Group Resources (BSGR) was involved in handing a bribe to the late Guinea President Lansana Conte and his fourth wife Mamadie Toure, in exchange for the concession to the Simandou iron ore mine – one of the largest such mines in the world.
The judges wrote in their ruling, “The actions of the accused corrupted the late President Conte and had serious consequences for Guinea.” The lead judge spoke about the false and groundless claims of the defense.
Despite the conviction, Steinmetz is free to leave the country, until the appeal is heard in a higher Swiss court. A Swiss legal source said on behalf of Steinmetz, “The verdict runs counter to the rules of international law and is not final and will be appealed.”
Steinmetz said, “The ruling does not reflect the things that were revealed during the two days of the hearing. There was no agreement or act of bribery. In this case there are only witnesses who lied and were bribed, witnesses that were paid for the lies that did not respond to the summons to appear in court, and it was not possible to investigate them or cross-examine them.”
“I condemn and protest about a decade of manipulations and lies, an investigation that was carried out, while violating the rights of the defense by the prosecutor. I am determined to continue to prove my innocence and I remain strong and absolutely certain that justice will come to light.”
The case in Switzerland began in 2013, with the prosecutor charging that between 2006 and 2012, Steinmetz and two associates at BSGR transferred between $8.5 and $10 million to Mamadie Toure for the mining concession.
In 2019 the current Guinea government agreed not to pursue charges against Steinmetz after he gave up rights to the Simandou mine.
Published by Globes, Israel business news – en.globes.co.il – on January 24, 2021
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