BSGR boss house arrest ends with no charges over Guinea bribery claims

BSG Resources owner Beny Steinmetz, who was arrested in Israel last month on suspicion of bribing government officials in Guinea in order to obtain mining rights over the vast Simandou iron ore project, is now free.

According to its lawyers, the period of restriction for the Israeli billionaire has now elapsed, and Steinmetz is not facing any charges relating to any criminal activities, including bribery and corruption, they told MINING.com Wednesday.

“Mr Steinmetz has fully co-operated with the Israeli authorities, and will continue to do so if and when required,” the diamond tycoon representatives said in an e-mailed statement.

They added the house arrest originated from ongoing “obsolete” investigations against BSGR were initiated by the government of Guinea with support from international police bodies in the US, UK and Switzerland.

BSGR boss house arrest ends with no charges over Guinea bribery claims

Israeli billionaire Beny Steinmetz has been at the centre of an international investigation into alleged bribery to win mining rights in Guinea.
(Image taken from Beny Steinmetz’s website)

Steinmetz’s arrest on Dec. 19 was the latest and perhaps most dramatic twist in the Simandou case, which has also “shaken to the core” the world’s second largest mining company Rio Tinto (LON:RIO).

The Anglo-Australian miner recently unveiled e-mails sent by some of its executives in May 2011 related to a dubious payment made to an external consultant working on the firm’s Simandou project.

In just a month, the revelation has already triggered several probes as well as a couple of management shakeups, including the polemic dismissal of the company’s’ energy and minerals boss Alan Davies, who vowed to take the "strongest possible legal action" against Rio.

Simandou, with over two billion tonnes of reserves and some of the highest grades in the industry (66% – 68% Fe which attracts premium pricing), one of the most easily exploitable iron ore fields outside of Australia's Pilbara region and Brazil.

At full production, the concession would export up to 100 million tonnes per year – that's a third of Rio's total capacity at the moment – and would catapult Rio past Vale as world number one iron ore miner. Simandou would by itself be the world's fifth-largest producer behind Australia's Fortescue Metals and BHP Billiton.