French-Israeli diamond magnate Beny Steinmetz went on trial in Geneva, Switzerland, yesterday over allegations of corruption linked to mining deals in Guinea, after a drawn-out international investigation.
Steinmetz, who traveled from Israel to take part in the two-week trial, has denied wrongdoing in the case, which involves allegations of multimillion-dollar bribes paid to top Guinean officials to win lucrative mining rights.
The 64-year-old businessman faces charges of corrupting public officials and forging documents following a six-year inquiry.
Swiss prosecutors accuse him and two partners of bribing a wife of former Guinean president Lansana Conte and others to win mining rights in the southeastern Simandou region, which is thought to contain the world’s biggest untapped iron ore deposit.
Steinmetz has previously dismissed the allegations as baseless and an attempt by political enemies to smear him.
Prosecutors say Steinmetz obtained the mining rights shortly before Conte died in 2008 after about US$10 million was paid in bribes, some through Swiss bank accounts.
Prosecutors claim Steinmetz and representatives in Guinea entered a “pact of corruption” with Conte and his fourth wife, Mamadie Toure. She is a key witness in the trial and is scheduled to testify on today, although it remains unclear if she will come.
Bonnant has said that his client “never paid a cent to Ms Mamadie Toure” and claims that she was not married to Conte, she was his mistress, meaning she could not be considered a corruptible official under Swiss law.
Conte’s dictatorship ordered global mining giant Rio Tinto to relinquish two concessions to BSGR for about US$170 million in 2008. Just 18 months later, BSGR sold 51 percent of its stake in the concession to Brazilian mining giant Vale for US$2.5 billion.
However, in 2013, Guinea’s first democratically elected president, Alpha Conde, launched a review of permits allotted under Conte and later stripped the VBG consortium formed by BSGR and Vale of its permit.
Steinmetz could be jailed for up to 10 years if convicted.
Cambodian fishers on the Mekong River got a shock when they inadvertently hooked an endangered giant freshwater stingray 4m long and weighing 180kg, scientists said yesterday. The female leviathan, one of Southeast Asia’s largest and rarest species of fish, was caught by accident last week in Stung Treng Province when it swallowed a smaller fish that had taken a baited hook. An international team of experts on the US-funded Wonders of the Mekong project worked with the fishers to unhook the ray before weighing and measuring it, and returning it unharmed to the river. The Mekong is a crucial habitat for a vast
A glimpse of a possible Picasso in the home of Imelda Marcos filmed during a visit by her son after his presidential election win has set off a flurry of speculation in the Philippines, where the family that once plundered billions is set to return to power. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr, the son and namesake of the late dictator, won a landslide victory in Monday’s presidential election, an outcome that has appalled those who survived his father’s regime. Images released by the family showed Marcos Jr visiting the home of his mother, who had displayed Picasso’s Femme Couche VI (Reclining Woman VI),
The images of a besuited Ferdinand Marcos Jr, clad in a top hat and leaning nonchalantly on a Rolls-Royce, dating from his time in Britain in the 1970s, are as you might expect from the playboy scion of a kleptocratic dictator. Yet as the Marcos family returns to power in the Philippines after a landslide presidential victory by Marcos Jr, he is facing calls to stop misrepresenting the circumstances of his studies at the University of Oxford. The university has confirmed that he did not complete his degree in philosophy, politics and economics after enrolling in 1975. “According to our records, he did
HATE CRIME: Officials were investigating a detailed ‘manifesto’ posted online before the livestreamed shooting, in which the suspect outlined his reasoning and plans A heavily armed 18-year-old white man on Saturday shot 10 people dead at a Buffalo, New York, grocery store in a “racially motivated” attack that he livestreamed on camera, authorities said. The gunman, who was wearing body armor and a helmet, was arrested after the massacre, Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia told a news conference. Gramaglia put the toll at 10 dead and three wounded. Eleven of the victims were African Americans. The gunman shot four people in the parking lot of the Tops supermarket, three of them fatally, then went inside and continued firing, Gramaglia said. Among those killed inside the store was