Beny Steinmetz

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Beny Steinmetz (Hebrew: בני שטיינמץ‎; born 1956) is an Israeli businessman, with a portfolio in diamond-mining, engineering and real estate.[1][2][3]

Biography[edit]

Beny Steinmetz was born in Netanya, the fourth child of Rubin Steinmetz.[4] He inherited the Geneva-based Steinmetz Diamond Group from his father.[1] Steinmetz lives in Geneva.[5]

Steinmetz is married with four children.[1] With his wife, he oversees the Beny & Agnes Steinmetz Foundation, which donates to schools, hospitals, army units and the arts in Israel.[1] He also holds French citizenship and describes himself as an "international Israeli."[6]

Business career[edit]

Steinmetz along with his brother Daniel founded what subsequently became known as Beny Steinmetz Group Resources (BSGR). Beny currently occupies an advisory role to the company's Board of Directors.[3]

In March 2014, the Swiss daily Le Temps reported that Beny Steinmetz had sold shares in the Steinmetz Diamond Group (SDG) to his brother Daniel.[7][8] He is an investor of Gabriel Resources Ltd.[9]

Koidu Holdings, which formerly operated as a joint venture, has been wholly owned by the BSGR company since 2007.[10][11]

In 1997, he founded STI Ventures NV, a venture capital firm that invests in start-up companies in Israel.[12] In 1999, he was the owner of Tucows.[13] BSGR and another investment firm, IMR, also control Cunico. A now-defunct company, of which he was a founder and shareholder, Nikanor plc, listed in London, was acquired by Katanga Mining in 2008.[14] With his company called Scorpio, he owns real estate in Kazakhstan, Russia, and Eastern Europe.[1][2]

The March 2011 issue of Forbes magazine estimated his personal wealth at US$6 billion.[15]

As of March 2011, he was the second richest person in Israel, before Sammy Ofer died in June 2011.[16] According to Forbes in June 2014, Steinmetz is the sixth richest Israeli in the world with a net worth of $3.5 billion.[17]

Controversy[edit]

In December 2008, a three-year exploration permit for Simandou Blocks 1 & 2, in the Republic of Guinea, was awarded to BSGR Guinea, after the government of Guits to mine the northern half of Simandou, days before he died, to Steinmetz for $160 million. Steinmetz then soon sold a 51% share on to Vale for $2.5 billion.[18]

The U.S. Justice Department and the FBI investigated BSGR's acquisition of the rights to extract half of the iron ore deposits at Simandou, Guinea, due to concerns about corruption and bribery.[5][19][20][21] BSGR denied these allegations and in an interview to the New Yorker, Steinmetz said: “We are the victims. We have done only good things for Guinea, and what we’re getting is spit in the face."[22]

In April 2014 the Guinean government accused BSGR of obtaining the Simandou mining rights by paying bribes to the wife of then-president Lansana Conté in 2008, and that the rights would be stripped from BSGR and its partner Vale S.A.[23]

In September 2014 BSGR started an international arbitration proceeding against the Republic of Guinea in the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes, challenging the government's decision to revoke its mining rights.[24]

Rio Tinto then filed suit against Steinmetz, BSGR and Vale alleging that they had devised a RICO scheme to steal "valuable mining rights" held by Rio Tinto.[25]

Steinmetz subsequently hired former FBI director Louis Freeh, defense attorney Alan Dershowitz, and law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, as part of his defense team.[26]

In November 2015, Rio Tinto's RICO lawsuit against BSGR was dismissed, with U.S. District Judge Richard Berman ruling that Rio exceeded the statute of limitations when filing their claim against BSGR in 2014 and that the company failed to identify a pattern of racketeering activity by the defendants.[27]

In mid-November 2016, Alan Davies, head of the Rio Tinto department responsible for Simandou, was suspended due to an investigation into the lawfulness of Rio Tinto's payment to Francois de Combert, former managing partner at Lazard and personal adviser to the president of Guinea.[28]

On 1 December 2016, France 24 aired recordings from 2012 that it claimed were conversations between Francois de Combret and unnamed people involved in negotiations over the future of Simandou.[29]

Australian media referred to the controversy as Guineagate.[30]

In December 2016, Steinmetz was arrested on suspicion of money laundering and bribery charges following an investigation carried out by Israeli, American, Swiss, and Guinean authorities in coordination with the OECD.[31]

He was placed under house arrest on 19 December 2016, due to accusations that he paid tens of millions of dollars to senior public officials in Guinea to advance his businesses, specifically in connection with BSGR's purchase of Simandou.[32] Steinmetz was released without charge the following month.[32][33]

In April 2017, BSGR filed a suit against American billionaire George Soros in U.S. federal court in New York, claiming he had engaged in a lengthy effort to defame the company and sabotage its business in Simandou and around the world.[32][31][34] A Soros spokesman called the allegations "frivolous and entirely false" and described the lawsuit as "a desperate PR stunt meant to deflect attention from BSGR's mounting legal problems across multiple jurisdictions."[35]

On 10 March 2016, Steimetz was indicted in absentia by Romanian National Anticorruption Directorate, on charges of the unlawful recovery of Paul-Philippe Hohenzollern's inheritance.[36] The court in Romania dismissed the request for a warrant for his arrest.[37]

On 14 August 2017, Steinmetz was arrested as part of a joint investigation by Israeli and Swiss anti-corruption officials over allegations of fraud, breach of trust, bribery, obstruction of justice and false registration of corporate documents" with the apparent purpose of money laundering.[38]

Philanthropy[edit]

In 2007, Steinmetz and his wife Agnes founded the Agnes and Beny Steinmetz Foundation in order to unify their multiple volunteer activities under the auspices of one philanthropic organization. The Foundation is primarily engaged in financing projects in the fields of education, healthcare, and culture for young children.[39]

The Agnes and Beny Steinmetz Foundation also supports programs that work with at-risk youth, runs after-school facilities for children from disadvantaged families,[40] and offers scholarships to students from difficult socio-economic backgrounds.[41]

The Foundation also donates to several organizations and institutions, including the Tel Aviv Museum, the Association for the Wellbeing of Israel's Soldiers (mainly supporting the soldiers of the Tzabar Battalion Of the Givati Brigade),[42] the Israel Cancer Association, and various hospitals.[43]

At the end of 2016, the Foundation held a festive event to celebrate a decade of giving. Attendants included representatives of the many organizations the Foundation had supported over the years by contributing a cumulative amount of tens of millions of shekels.[44]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Forbes 2010
  2. ^ a b Michael Rochvarger, "Hapoalim confronts Beny Steinmetz", Haaretz, 13 May 2010.
  3. ^ a b BSG Resources Limited About Archived 6 April 2013 at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ Sherwood, Harriet. "Beny Steinmetz: Israeli diamond dealer who likes to keep a low profile". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. Retrieved 30 July 2013.
  5. ^ a b Patrick Radden Keefe, "Buried Secrets: How an Israeli billionaire wrested control of one of Africa's biggest prizes", The New Yorker, 8 July 2013.
  6. ^ "Beny Steinmetz: Israeli diamond dealer who likes to keep a low profile". The Guardian. 29 July 2013.
  7. ^ Swiss Newspaper Reports Beny Steinmetz Sells Interest In Diamond Business, Jewish Business News, 30 March 2014.
  8. ^ "Guinea to strip Beny Steinmetz company of mining concessions". The Guardian. 9 April 2014.
  9. ^ "Steinmetz unit invests in Gabriel Resources". Mining Weekly. 12 November 2009.
  10. ^ Koidu Holdings Company History Retrieved 2012-12-15
  11. ^ Joan Baxter, Dust from our eyes: an unblinkered look at Africa, Wolsak and Wynn Publishers Ltd., 2008, p. 226 [1]
  12. ^ STI Ventures NV BusinessWeek
  13. ^ ISLA, Volume 54, Issue 12, Oakland, California: Information Services on Latin America, 1999, pg. 7379 [2]
  14. ^ "History". Katanga Mining. Archived from the original on 10 November 2011. Retrieved 21 February 2018.
  15. ^ Forbes Rich List: The World's Billionaires 2011 - Beny Steinmetz, forbes.com; accessed 21 February 2018.
  16. ^ "Sammy Ofer tops Israelis in 'Forbes' billionaires list", The Jerusalem Post, 10 March 2011.
  17. ^ Beny Steinmetz profile, Forbes; retrieved 21 February 2018.
  18. ^ "Guinea and its iron ore: Let the people benefit, for once". The Economist. 7 June 2014.
  19. ^ FBI arrest agent over bribery cover up claim in battle over $10bn mountain, The Guardian, 16 April 2013.
  20. ^ "The corruption deal of the century: How Guinea lost billions of pounds in Simandou mining licensing, The Independent, 17 June 2013.
  21. ^ Video on YouTube
  22. ^ "Buried Secrets". The New Yorker. Retrieved 12 December 2016.
  23. ^ Ian Cobain; Juliette Garside; Anne Penketh (9 April 2014). "Guinea to strip Beny Steinmetz company of mining concessions". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
  24. ^ "BSGR pushes ahead with arbitration against Guinea over Simandou mining rights". Reuters. 10 September 2014.
  25. ^ Cobain, Ian (1 May 2014). "Rio Tinto sues Israeli billionaire Beny Steinmetz". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 May 2014.
  26. ^ Silverstein, Ken (2 January 2015). "Louis Freeh's Latest Investigation: Billionaire Businessman Accused of Bribing African Government". The Intercept. Archived from the original on 2 January 2015.
  27. ^ Erik Larson & Bob Van Voris (20 November 2015). "Steinmetz, BSG Resources Win Dismissal of Rio Tinto Lawsuit". Bloomberg News.
  28. ^ "Billionaire Says Rio Probe Proves Elaborate Plot to Strip Prized Guinea Mine Rights". Bloomberg News. 11 November 2016. Retrieved 21 February 2018.
  29. ^ "Audio recordings drag Guinea president into mine bribery scandal". France 24. 1 December 2016. Retrieved 12 December 2016.
  30. ^ "French claims Rio's consultant working 'hand in hand' with officials in Guinea". Financial Review. 2 December 2016. Retrieved 21 February 2018.
  31. ^ a b "Billionaire vs. billionaire: Israel's Steinmetz sues Soros". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 18 April 2017.
  32. ^ a b c "BSGR sues billionaire George Soros over loss of Guinea iron project". Reuters.
  33. ^ Billionaire Beny Steinmetz released from Israel house arrest, Reuters.com, 4 January 2017.
  34. ^ "Soros Sued by Fellow Billionaire in $10 Billion Mine Brawl". Bloomberg News. 14 April 2017. Retrieved 21 February 2018.
  35. ^ Tara Cunningham, "Miner BSG Resources sues billionaire George Soros over loss of Guinea iron project", Telegraph, 15 April 2017.
  36. ^ "Bombă aruncată de DNA: Se cere arestarea a patru afaceriști extrem de influenţi" (in Romanian). antena3. 10 March 2016.
  37. ^ "Romanian court refuses Steinmetz arrest warrant". Globes. Retrieved 21 February 2018.
  38. ^ Eisenbud, Daniel; Shaham, Udi (14 August 2017). "Israeli billionaire arrested in int'l money laundering probe". jpost.com. Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 21 February 2018.
  39. ^ "מי הגיע לאירוע ההוקרה של קרן אניאס ובני שטיינמץ? - גלובס". Globes. Retrieved 2017-07-26.
  40. ^ "The Agnes & Beny Steinmetz Foundation". www.steinmetz-foundation.com. Retrieved 2017-07-26.
  41. ^ "netanya.ac.il/Interested/Scholarships/Pages/Scholarships7.aspx". www.netanya.ac.il (in Hebrew). Retrieved 21 February 2018.
  42. ^ "חוגגים עשור לקרן אניאס ובני שטיינמץ | המגזין של פרויקט אמץ לוחם". ametz.awis.org.il (in Hebrew). Retrieved 21 February 2018.
  43. ^ "קרן אניאס ובני שטיינמץ | עמוד הבית". www.steinmetzfoundationnews.com (in Hebrew). Retrieved 21 February 2018.
  44. ^ "אירוע חגיגת עשור לקרן אניאס ובני שטינמץ". steinmetzfoundationnews.com (in Hebrew). Retrieved 21 February 2018.