Vale backs out of $1.2 billion bribery trial against Beny Steinmetz

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)

Vale SA dropped its $1.2 billion London court battle with Beny Steinmetz and five of his associates less than half way through a planned 11-week trial into alleged bribery, according to the Israeli tycoon’s media team.

The mining giant backed out after its lawyer told the High Court on Monday that its claim was brought out of time, said Bobby Morse, a partner at communications firm Buchanan, which is representing Steinmetz and the other defendants.

Vale also discharged its worldwide freezing order against Steinmetz and his company BSG Resources, Morse said.

Vale was seeking $1.2 billion in damages after it accused Steinmetz and his business partners of facilitating contracts to Guinea’s Simandou mine worth billions of dollars that were alleged to be obtained with bribes. It was the latest saga in a long-running legal drama between the mining company and the billionaire, that had triggered investigations in the US and Switzerland.

Steinmetz said in a separate statement that the real reasons for “Vale’s abrupt decision” went “well beyond limitations” and “we have a lot to say and will wait until we have received a final judgment on Feb. 15.”

Vale’s lawyers Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP declined to immediately comment. Vale’s press office declined to immediately comment.

(By Katharine Gemmell, with assistance from Ellen Milligan)

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