December 9, 2022

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Beny Steinmetz faces five years in prison in Switzerland. Prosecutors are pushing for that penalty for $10 million in punitive damages

Swiss prosecutors are insisting on sentencing Israeli billionaire Beny Steinmetz to five years in prison in a wide-ranging corruption trial in the Guinea mining business that made the Israeli businessman rich.

Beny Steinmetz is also sentenced in Romania to another five years in prison.

Chief prosecutor Yves Bertossa told the Court of Appeal in Geneva that he maintains his request that Beny Steinmetz spend five years behind bars for “a network of corruption”, reports the Times of Israel.

The 66-year-old Guinean tycoon, who made his fortune from diamond mining, has already been sentenced by a lower court in January 2021 to five years in prison and ordered to pay restitution of 50 million Swiss francs ($52 million). He was found guilty of setting up and operating a complex financial network of kickbacks to obtain mining permits in the Simandou region of southeastern Guinea. Prospecting shows the existence in the area of ​​the largest untapped iron ore deposits in the world.

In closing statements at the appeal hearing, defense lawyers argue that the charges against their client in the Guinean bribery case are “very vague”.

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“He is innocent… There is no crime,” he said in his plea, urging the judges to look at the facts “with objectivity”.
His lawyer claims that the businessman was a mere consultant to Beny Steinmetz Group Resources (BSGR).

The Swiss prosecutor explained, however, that Steinmetz is accused of bribing one of the wives of Guinea’s former president, Lansana Conte, and others to gain lucrative mining rights in Simandou.

The exploitation rights were obtained shortly before the president’s death, and the businessman would have paid 10 million dollars in damages, prosecutors also showed. BSGR later sold 51 percent of its stake in the concession to Brazilian mining giant Vale for $2.5 billion.

However, in 2013, Guinea’s first democratically elected president, Alpha Conde, revoked the mining rights.

In Romania, he is awaiting sentencing in the “Băneasa Farm” case

In Romania, Steinmetz had been sentenced definitively since December 2020, to 5 years in prison, for forming a criminal group, in the Ferma Băneasa case. In the same case, which concerns fraudulent land transactions, the businessman Remus Truică and Prince Paul of Romania were convicted, among others.

Later, Beny Steinmetz was detained at Athens airport, based on a European arrest warrant issued by the Romanian authorities. He was then released under judicial control, for a bail of 5000 euros.

However, the President of the Court of Appeal in Athens and two Greek judges claim that Steinmetz did not have a fair trial in Romania because: “The composition of the Court that sentenced him (Beny Steinmetz) included a judge who did not take the legal oath (…) This failure to take the oath constitutes a clear violation of Romanian domestic law, which affects the very essence of the right to a legally constituted court” .

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