Israel Tycoon's Huge Mining Deal With African Nation of Guinea in Doubt Over 'Bribes'

Gov't May Void Deal With Beny Steinmetz's BSGR Firm

getty images

By Reuters

Published August 08, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Guinea could void BSG Resources’ (BSGR) mining permits if corruption investigations in the West African nation and the United States lead to convictions, the head of a committee tasked with reviewing mining deals said.

BSGR, the mining arm of Israeli billionaire Beny Steinmetz’s business empire, is battling Guinea over the right to mine one of the world’s largest untapped iron-ore deposits, known as Simandou.

The Guinean government alleges that BSGR bribed officials and Mamadie Toure, the wife of former President Lansana Conte, to win permits, or titles, to develop the northern half of the deposit, an accusation the company has repeatedly rejected.

Two BSGR employees have been arrested by anti-corruption investigators in Guinea. A third man, named by Guinea’s government as an agent for the firm, was arrested and charged in the United States.

“If these allegations are confirmed either by our own hearings or the judicial proceedings under way in the United States, the process of acquiring these titles is invalidated,” Nava Toure, head of Guinea’s mining review committee, said.

“As such, the committee would have the necessary elements to be able to request … a cancellation of these titles,” he told Reuters on Wednesday.

The committee was set up by the government to review the legality of mining permits granted under longtime ruler Conte and the military junta that seized power following his death in late 2008.

It has made BSGR’s Simandou titles, under which the company is partnered with Brazilian mining group Vale, a priority for examination.

BSGR has accused the government of trying to use the process to confiscate its rights to Simandou.

“Today’s statement of intent from Nava Toure is a clear sign of the government’s total disregard for legal due process in this matter,” BSGR President Asher Avidan said in a statement.

“This change of tack from the government demonstrates their awareness of the weakness of their case against BSGR,” he said.

In April, Guinean authorities arrested two BSGR employees, including the former vice president of the miner’s Guinean unit, Ibrahima Sory Toure, accusing them of involvement in corruption.

Avidan said the two men were being held illegally in “appalling conditions” and would not receive a fair trial in Guinea.

“These are the actions of a despotic regime. BSGR has never done anything wrong and will defend its interests including through international arbitration if necessary,” he said.

U.S. authorities in January began investigating potential illegal payments made to obtain mining concessions in Guinea and transfers of those payments into the United States. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act allows U.S. officials to pursue bribery cases abroad.

Frederic Cilins, a French national whom Guinea’s government says worked as an agent for BSGR, was arrested in the United States in April and charged with obstructing a criminal investigation, tampering with a witness and destruction of records.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: 10,000 Israel supporters gathered for a solidarity rally near the United Nations in New York yesterday.
  • Step into the Iron Dome with Tuvia Tenenbom.
  • What do you think of Wonder Woman's new look?
  • "She said that Ruven Barkan, a Conservative rabbi, came into her classroom, closed the door and turned out the lights. He asked the class of fourth graders to lie on the floor and relax their bodies. Then, he asked them to pray for abused children." Read Paul Berger's compelling story about a #Savannah community in turmoil:
  • “Everything around me turns orange, then a second of silence, then a bomb goes off!" First installment of Walid Abuzaid’s account of the war in #Gaza:
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.