Israel’s richest person Beny Steinmetz, who amassed his $7.4 billion net worth beginning in the diamond trade, has seen his Geneva home raided by Swiss police following a request from the Government of Guinea. The West African country, as Bloomberg reports, approached Swiss prosecutors following an investigation into claims that bribes (shock, horror) were paid for mining licenses by Steinmetz’s mining company BSG Resources. This follows raids of London-based Onyx Financial (run by a director of BSG) and the arrest of a BSG employee on charges he interfered with the U.S. grand jury probe (witness tampering, obstructing a criminal investigation and destruction of evidence in a federal investigation). He has pleaded not guilty. All sounds above board we are sure… just ask Eike Batista…
The Geneva home of Beny Steinmetz, the billionaire natural-resources investor who is Israel’s richest person, was raided by Swiss police, according to a person familiar with the matter.
The raid was ordered by Geneva’s public prosecutor following a request by the government of Guinea and occurred within the last two weeks, said the person, who was briefed on the matter and asked not to be identified as the investigation is confidential. No documents were taken away, the person said.
Steinmetz, 57, has a net worth of $7.4 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. BSG Resources Ltd., his mining company, owns a 51 percent stake in the Simandou iron ore deposit in Guinea. The West African country is reviewing mining licenses including Simandou’s. In April, a U.S. grand jury investigation began into claims that bribes were paid by BSG Resources for mining rights in Guinea.
Frederic Cilins, a French citizen who says he has worked for BSG Resources in Guinea, was denied bail in July while awaiting trial on charges he interfered with the U.S. grand jury probe. He’s charged with witness tampering, obstructing a criminal investigation and destruction of evidence in a federal investigation. The witness-tampering and record-destruction charges carry maximum prison terms of 20 years.
Cilins said he was arrested after trying to stop an extortion attempt by the government’s main witness. He has pleaded not guilty.
Steinmetz amassed his fortune initially in the diamond trade, according to his personal website. Working from a base in Antwerp, Belgium, in the 1980s and 1990s, he joined forces with his brother Daniel Steinmetz to conduct business deals in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and India. Beny Steinmetz and his family moved to Geneva in 2010, according to the website.