A billionaire French-Israeli diamond magnate, Beny Steinmetz, has appeared in court in Switzerland to face trial over alleged corruption linked to a major mining deal in Guinea.
He has always denied his company, BSGR, paid multi-million dollar bribes to obtain iron ore mining exploration permits in southern Guinea in 2008.
He travelled to Geneva from Israel for the two-week trial. If convicted he could face up to 10 years in prison. Steinmetz, 64, was previously sentenced in absentia to five years in prison by a court in Romania for money laundering.
Swiss prosecutors say Steinmetz paid about $10m (£7.4m) in bribes, in part through Swiss bank accounts, to gain the rights to Guinea’s iron ore deposits in the Simandou mountains.
The area is believed to contain the world’s largest untapped iron ore deposits. His lawyer Marc Bonnant says “we will plead his innocence”.
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