A Swiss criminal court found the owner of mining company BSG Resources guilty of bribery and forgery, sentencing him to five years in prison with a $ 56 million fine. Reuters agency reported.
Beni Steinmetz and two of his business associates were accused of paying bribes of $ 10 million between 2006 and 2010 to Mamadie Toure, wife of the former president of the Republic of Guinea Lansana Conte. The defendants also forged documents to cover up corruption through a web of shell companies and bank accounts.
The bribes were intended to obtain work permits for the Simandou iron mine, located in southern Guinea.
The mine is reported to hold two billion tons of ore worth $ 110 billion.
The court noted that Steinmetz immediately began to profit from the rights to the mine, and the West African state of Guinea did not receive a cent.
Steinmetz’s co-defendants, Frenchman Frédéric Cilins and Belgian Sandra Merloni-Horemans, were sentenced to three and a half years in prison.
All three defendants denied the charges.
In turn, Steinmetz said the judgment went «completely against the course of international justice», accusing the Swiss prosecutor’s office of falsification and bias.
Moreover, the businessman called the whole process against him «a decade of manipulations and lies» and claimed that his situation is the result of actions taken by businessman George Soros, who influenced the cancellation of BSGR’s mining rights in Guinea.
Since Steinmetz lived in Geneva until 2016 and some of the bribes were transferred through Swiss accounts, the trial took place in Switzerland.
64-year-old Steinmetz returned to Israel in 2016 and was one of Israel’s richest men. The court asked him to estimate his personal financial condition, saying it was $ 50-80 million.