Investigators are looking into whether Israeli billionaire Beny Steinmetz’s mining arm paid bribes for rights
Swiss investigators said they have questioned several witnesses in the West African nation of Guinea in a broadening criminal probe into whether Israeli billionaire Beny Steinmetz’s mining arm paid bribes for the rights to one of the world’s largest iron-ore deposits.
The investigators, led by Geneva prosecutor Claudio Mascotto, left Guinea Friday after spending the week interviewing former government officials with ties to Guinea’s mining ministry and banking system who were involved in decisions related to the deal, according to people familiar with the investigation. The investigators also met with an attorney representing Mr. Steinmetz, the people said.
The interviews were another indication that individuals tied to BSG Resources Ltd., the mining arm of Mr. Steinmetz’s family-owned conglomerate, remains the focus of multiple investigations into allegations that bribes were paid to win mining rights in Guinea’s Simandou mountain range, where the iron-ore deposits are said to be among the world’s biggest.
The investigation was conducted as part of an inquiry “for corruption of foreign public agents,” a spokesman for the Swiss public prosecutor’s office said.“Several hearings of witnesses were conducted on site” in Guinea, the spokesman said.
The Wall Street Journal reported in March that U.S. federal prosecutors, in a February briefing with Guinean government officials, said senior executives of BSGR could be indicted in a parallel investigation into the allegations.
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