Friday, 12 December 2014

Billionaire diamond miner sues Theresa May and the SFO over bribery claims................

Beny Steinmetz claims Britain’s decision to assist Guinea investigation into alleged corruption was politically motivated

Controversial billionaire diamond miner Beny Steinmetz is suing the home secretary, Theresa May, and the Serious Fraud Office over their investigation into claims his company paid huge bribes to win lucrative mining rights in Africa.
Steinmetz’s BSG Resources is taking action against May and the SFO over their decision to help the government of Guinea in their investigation into claims BSGR paid bribes to win rights to an iron ore mountain potentially worth $140bn (£89bn). BSGR denies the allegations.
BSGR has filed for a judicial review claiming Britain’s decision to assist the inquiry is politically motivated. The claim, filed in November but released on Friday, said the SFO’s demand for information was “perhaps the most onerous demand for documents ever made by the SFO in relation to obtaining evidence on behalf of a foreign government”.
It said the SFO requested 180,000 documents from BSGR’s lawyers, which would take 1,350 man-hours to prepare costing £330,000.
“The SFO failed to give proper consideration to the background of BSGR’s dispute with the Republic of Guinea when deciding whether it was appropriate to provide assistance,” BSGR said. “What has taken place appears to be a ‘rubber stamping’ exercise authorising everything sought by the government of Guinea”.
BSGR, which is registered in Guernsey, faces a criminal investigation in the US where former middleman Frederic Cilins was jailed in July after admitting he tried to obstruct a criminal investigation into allegations that bribes were paid in return for the award of mining rights to the coveted Simandou iron ore deposit.
A Guinea government inquiry ruled that BSGR representatives offered millions of dollars in cash and shares to the fourth wife of Lansana Conté, former dictatorial president of Guinea. Guinea has stripped BSGR of the mining rights awarded by the previous government. The current president Alpha Conde is being advised by Tony Blair and George Soros.
Steinmetz, who lives in Switzerland, is said to be Israel’s richest businessman, with estimated wealth of $6.7bn. He controls BSGR through family trusts. The company is registered in Guernsey and has offices in London and Geneva.
His business is also under investigation by Swiss authorities. Following a request by the government of Guinea, Swiss police raided the Geneva offices of a company that provides management services for BSGR.
A Home Office spokesman said: “As a matter of long-standing policy and practice, we neither confirm nor deny the existence, content or status of any individual mutual legal assistance request.” The SFO declined to comment.