Ex-FBI boss hired by trust heading BSGR to run internal probe

Ex-FBI boss hired by trust heading BSGR to run internal probe

The Simandou Mountains in Guinea hold some of the richest iron ore deposits in the world and has the potential to transform the fortunes of the impoverished West African nation.

The trust heading BSG Resources, the mining arm of Israeli tycoon Beny Steinmetz’s empire, has hired ex-FBI director Louis Freeh and former U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman to conduct an internal probe into corruption allegations.

Citing a person familiar with the matter who “asked not to be identified,” Bloomberg reports the confidential probe focus on claims that BSGR bribed Guinean officials to get lucrative rights over Simandou, a world-class iron-ore deposit.

Steinmetz’s firm acquisition of such mining rights has been the subject of police investigations on three continents even before the West African nation government concluded the miner obtained concessions to the Simandou and Zogota areas through corrupt practices, revoking its rights.

BSGR continues to deny wrongdoing and says it is the victim of a plot to seize its assets. The company has vowed to “prove the allegations raised in Guinea’s rigged and illegitimate process are false,” and recently launched an international arbitration process to stop the West African nation from grating the Simonadou rights taken from BSGR to another company.

Steinmetz’s company claim against the country at the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes states the current president, Alpha Condé, conspired with a group of South African businessmen to rig the election that brought him to power in March 2010.

In return for their money and help, the filing claims, they would be given a slice of the country’s mining rights when Condé came to power, British newspaper The Independent reports. These rights, the allegation says, included those owned by Steinmetz.

The case goes on to argue that the billionaire philanthropist George Soros worked with the President to draft a new mining code that would re-examine previous licence awards and effectively mean the Steinmetz licenses were illegal. It alleges Soros then encouraged an NGO he finances, Global Witness, to launch a “smear campaign” Steinmetz’s firm. 

Guinea’s President has denied such accusations.