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French tycoon dragged before court over $160M corruption deal in Guinea

A French-Israeli businessman, Beny Steinmetz has been dragged before court in Switzerland to respond to charges regarding his alleged corrupt dealings in Guinea-Conakry some years ago.

According to the Swiss Prosecutors, the billionaire diamond magnate paid bribe of about $10m through Swiss banks purposely to compromise Guinean public officials and secure rich mining concessions at a very cheap rate in 2008.

Through these supposedly fraudulent agreements, Steinmetz was granted a right to very expensive reserves which he paid about $160m for. He later sold just half of what he secured fraudulently in merely eighteen months at $2.5bn to Brazilian multinational mining company called Vale and made a return of 1,462 percent. 

The initial amount at which he secured the facility did not make sense to many people at the time as Sudanese telecom billionaire, Mo Ibrahim questioned whether the Guineans who consented to that deal are “idiots, or criminals, or both?”

Mamadie Toure, wife of former Guinean head of state, Lansana Conte was fingered as an aid to Mr. Steinmetz in his bid to successfully bribe the relevant authorities leading to the undue sales of a concession referred to as the world’s largest untapped iron ore deposits.

However, in 2014, the Alpha Condé administration identified some evidence of corruption and stripped Beny Steinmetz’s company, BSGR of its mining rights but the country was not able to retrieve any of the monies he made fraudulently. 

The Swiss government is currently dragging him in a lawsuit which will last for a period of two weeks; if found guilty, the business mogul could be jailed for a period up to 10 years.

Guinea is one of the many African countries blessed with natural resources but consistently listed among poor countries due partly to the undue exploitation of its resource reserves by state and individual owned multinational companies through very unfair trade deals.

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