One of the world's wealthiest men dealt a blow by one of the world's poorest countrie


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One of the world's wealthiest men was dealt a blow by one of the world's poorest countries on Wednesday when an investigation by the government of Guinea concluded that a company run by billionaire Beny Steinmetz should be stripped of lucrative mining concessions because it had obtained them through corruption.


The decision is a turning point in the two-year battle between Steinmetz and the first-ever democratically-elected government of the impoverished west African country of Guinea for control of the world's riches untapped iron ore deposits.


Steinmetz had acquired the rights to a giant deposit beneath the Simandou mountains in a deal that was widely regarded as remarkable, even within the buccaneering world of African mining: his company BSG Resources (BSGR) said it had won two mining concessions as a result of a $165m (£98.5m) investment in the exploration of the area. It then sold 51% of its prize to the Brazilian mining giant Vale for $2.5bn.
However, a government committee in the Guinean capital of Conakry now says it possesses what it describes as "precise and coherent evidence" that BSGR used intermediaries to pay bribes to Mamadie Touré, the wife of Lansana Conté, the dictatorial ruler of the country until his death in 2008.


Steinmetz, 58, is an Israeli citizen and is said to be that country's richest businessmen, with an estimated wealth of around $6.7bn. He controls BSGR through family trusts. The company is registered in Guernsey and has offices in London and Geneva.


His business is also under investigation by Swiss authorities. Last year, following a request by the government of Guinea, Swiss police raided the Geneva offices of a company that provides management services for BSGR, and searched a private plane used by the tycoon.


Steinmetz's spokesman said BSGR denied any wrongdoing and would disprove the allegations.




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Guinea to strip Beny Steinmetz company of mining concessions | Business | The Guardian
 
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