French-Israeli businessman and diamond-maker Beny Steinmetz will be tried in Geneva for corruption and forgery in a mine concession in Guinea between 2005 and 2010, the Geneva public prosecutor said on Monday.
The prosecutor Claudio Mascotto, in charge of the procedure since its opening in 2013, detained against the businessman and two of his collaborators – a French and a Belgian, according to the Swiss media – the offenses of “corruption of agents” foreign public “and” false in the titles “.
The date of the trial has not been specified.
Defendants accused of “bribing or bribing one of Guinean President Lansana Conte’s wives to oust a competitor and then award Beny Steinmetz Group Resources ( BSGR) ) mining rights in the Simandou region “(south-eastern Guinea).
According to the prosecution, the bribes paid would amount to about ten million dollars. These sums, some of which passed through Swiss accounts, would have squeezed out the rival Rio Tinto mining group.
The defendants are further accused of fabricating false contracts and false invoices to conceal these bribes.
The Franco-Israeli businessman, who was living and working at the time in Geneva, obtained the license to operate an iron ore mine in Simandou, just before the death of President Conté in 2008.
In 2013, he had claimed in an interview with a French newspaper that he had invested $ 170 million in this mine, then sold 51% in 2010 to the Brazilian raw materials group Vale for $ 2.5 billion, almost 30 times more expensive.
In this article, Steinmetz accused the current Guinean President Alpha Condé of orchestrating “machinations” against him with American billionaire George Soros.
In February 2019, the billionaire and the Guinean presidency announced that they had reached an amicable agreement, namely the withdrawal of the corruption lawsuits against Steinmetz in exchange for his renunciation of his rights to the Simandou deposit.
But this arrangement did not put an end to prosecution by the Geneva prosecutor’s office which should require sentences ranging from two to ten years’ imprisonment.