Beny Steinmetz

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Beny Steinmetz
Beny-Steinmetz.jpg
Born (1956-04-02) April 2, 1956 (age 64)
CitizenshipIsraeli, French
OccupationBusinessman
Spouse(s)Agnes
Children4

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

Biography[edit]

Beny Steinmetz was born in Netanya, the fourth child of Rubin Steinmetz.[3] Steinmetz lives in Israel with his wife Agnes and their four children.[4]

With his wife, he oversees the Beny & Agnes Steinmetz Foundation, which donates to schools, hospitals, army units and the arts in Israel.[4] He also holds French citizenship and describes himself as an "international Israeli." [5]

Business career[edit]

Steinmetz occupies an advisory role to the Beny Steinmetz Group Resources (BSGR) Board of Directors. BSGR is a natural resource company active in the fields of oil & gas, mining, metal and power.[6]

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] As of March 2015 BSG Capital, a subsidiary of BSGR held a 16% share in Gabriel Resources Ltd.[8]

Koidu Holdings, which formerly operated as a joint venture, has been wholly owned by the BSGR company since 2007.[9][10] In 1997, he founded STI Ventures NV, a venture capital firm that invests in start-up companies in Israel.[6] In 1999, he was the owner of Tucows.[11]

A now-defunct company, of which he was a founder and shareholder, Nikanor plc, listed in London, was acquired by Katanga Mining in 2008.[12] With his company called Scorpio, he owns real estate in Kazakhstan, Russia, and Eastern Europe.[4][13]

In November 2019 Forbes estimated his net worth at $1.1 billion.[4]

Controversy[edit]

Beny Steinmetz had been involved in a long-running dispute with the government of the Republic of Guinea surrounding the development of Simandou Blocks 1 & 2, part of one of the world's largest iron-ore deposits.[14] In December 2008, a three-year exploration permit to prospect for iron ore in Simandou, 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.[15]

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.[16][17] 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."[18]

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.[19]

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.[20] In February 2019, BSGR together with Guinean President Alpha Condé agreed to drop the pending arbitration case and all allegations of wrongdoing.[1] As part of the agreement, BSGR would relinquish its rights to Simandou and maintain an interest in the Zogota deposit that would be developed by head of Niron Metals, Mick Davis.[21][22]

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.[23]

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.[24]

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.[25]

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.[26]

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.[27]

Australian media referred to the controversy as Guineagate.[28]

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.[29]

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.[30] Steinmetz was released without charge the following month.[30][31]

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.[30][29][32] 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."[33]

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.[34] The court in Romania dismissed the request for a warrant for his arrest.[35]

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. He was released to house arrest on 17 August 2017.[36][37] On 27 June 2019, Steinmetz was acquitted by the Romanian court of all charges.[38]

In 2013 Steinmetz was accused by French newspaper Le Canard Enchaine of hiring French, Israeli and South African mercenaries to topple the government of Guinea. Steinmetz sued the newspaper for libel. In September 2018, due to the fact that the paper could not prove the authenticity of the sources it claimed to cite (the CIA and its French equivalent), the French court of appeals ruled that the newspaper defamed Steinmetz and his company. The paper and the journalist behind the article had to pay a total of 50,000 euros and publish corrections in Le Canard Enchaine as well as three other major newspapers.[39]

In 2021, Swiss media reported that the Israeli billionaire will be tried on corruption charges in Geneva.[40] On January 22, 2021, Steinmetz was found guilty of corruption. He was sentenced to 5 years in prison and ordered to pay a fine of 50 million Swiss francs.[41][42]

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.[43]

The Agnes and Beny Steinmetz Foundation also supports programs that work with at-risk youth, runs after-school facilities for children from disadvantaged families,[44] and offers scholarships to students from difficult socio-economic backgrounds.[45]

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),[46] the Israel Cancer Association, and various hospitals.[47]

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.[48]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Forbes 2010
  2. ^ Michael Rochvarger, "Hapoalim confronts Beny Steinmetz", Haaretz, 13 May 2010.
  3. ^ Sherwood, Harriet. "Beny Steinmetz: Israeli diamond dealer who likes to keep a low profile". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. Retrieved 30 July 2013.
  4. ^ a b c d "Beny Steinmetz". Forbes. Retrieved 2019-11-21.
  5. ^ "Israeli Billionaire Steinmetz's BSGR Settles Guinea Row, Looks to Zogota Iron Ore". Haaretz. 2019-02-25. Retrieved 2019-11-21.
  6. ^ a b "13 Israelis Make Forbes' Billionaire List". The Jewish Voice. 2012-03-15. Retrieved 2019-11-21.
  7. ^ "Guinea to strip Beny Steinmetz company of mining concessions". The Guardian. 9 April 2014.
  8. ^ "Gabriela Scripnic - Emotion-invoking strategies in the presentation of Roşia Montană Project in the Romanian public sphere", Rhetoric, Knowledge and the Public Sphere, Peter Lang, 2016, doi:10.3726/978-3-653-05950-2/20, ISBN 978-3-631-66633-3
  9. ^ Koidu Holdings Company History Retrieved 2012-12-15
  10. ^ Joan Baxter, Dust from our eyes: an unblinkered look at Africa, Wolsak and Wynn Publishers Ltd., 2008, p. 226 [1]
  11. ^ ISLA, Volume 54, Issue 12, Oakland, California: Information Services on Latin America, 1999, pg. 7379 [2]
  12. ^ "Subscribe to read". Financial Times. Retrieved 2019-11-21. Cite uses generic title (help)
  13. ^ "Israeli police holds ex-Rosia Montana shareholder Beny Steinmetz". Business Review (in Romanian). 2016-12-19. Retrieved 2019-11-21.
  14. ^ "Israeli Billionaire Steinmetz's BSGR Settles Guinea Row, Looks to Zogota Iron Ore". Haaretz. 2019-02-25. Retrieved 2019-12-08.
  15. ^ "Guinea and its iron ore: Let the people benefit, for once". The Economist. 7 June 2014.
  16. ^ FBI arrest agent over bribery cover up claim in battle over $10bn mountain, The Guardian, 16 April 2013.
  17. ^ "The corruption deal of the century: How Guinea lost billions of pounds in Simandou mining licensing, The Independent, 17 June 2013.
  18. ^ Patrick Radden Keefe, "Buried Secrets: How an Israeli billionaire wrested control of one of Africa's biggest prizes", The New Yorker, 8 July 2013.
  19. ^ Ian Cobain; Juliette Garside; Anne Penketh (9 April 2014). "Guinea to strip Beny Steinmetz company of mining concessions". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
  20. ^ "BSGR pushes ahead with arbitration against Guinea over Simandou mining rights". Reuters. 10 September 2014.
  21. ^ "Mining Billionaire Ends Bitter Guinea Dispute After Months of Secret Negotiations". 2019-02-25. Retrieved 2019-12-08.
  22. ^ Goodley, Simon (2019-02-25). "Beny Steinmetz settles dispute with Guinea over iron ore project". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2019-12-08.
  23. ^ Cobain, Ian (1 May 2014). "Rio Tinto sues Israeli billionaire Beny Steinmetz". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 May 2014.
  24. ^ 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.
  25. ^ Erik Larson & Bob Van Voris (20 November 2015). "Steinmetz, BSG Resources Win Dismissal of Rio Tinto Lawsuit". Bloomberg News.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  26. ^ "Billionaire Says Rio Probe Proves Elaborate Plot to Strip Prized Guinea Mine Rights". Bloomberg News. 11 November 2016. Retrieved 21 February 2018.
  27. ^ "Audio recordings drag Guinea president into mine bribery scandal". France 24. 1 December 2016. Retrieved 12 December 2016.
  28. ^ "French claims Rio's consultant working 'hand in hand' with officials in Guinea". Financial Review. 2 December 2016. Retrieved 21 February 2018.
  29. ^ a b "Billionaire vs. billionaire: Israel's Steinmetz sues Soros". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 18 April 2017.
  30. ^ a b c "BSGR sues billionaire George Soros over loss of Guinea iron project". Reuters.
  31. ^ Billionaire Beny Steinmetz released from Israel house arrest, Reuters.com, 4 January 2017.
  32. ^ "Soros Sued by Fellow Billionaire in $10 Billion Mine Brawl". Bloomberg News. 14 April 2017. Retrieved 21 February 2018.
  33. ^ Tara Cunningham, "Miner BSG Resources sues billionaire George Soros over loss of Guinea iron project", Telegraph, 15 April 2017.
  34. ^ "Bombă aruncată de DNA: Se cere arestarea a patru afaceriști extrem de influenţi" (in Romanian). antena3. 10 March 2016.
  35. ^ "Romanian court refuses Steinmetz arrest warrant". Globes. Retrieved 21 February 2018.
  36. ^ "Beny Steinmetz to be released to house arrest". en.globes.co.il (in Hebrew). 2017-08-17. Retrieved 2019-12-08.
  37. ^ Eisenbud, Daniel; Shaham, Udi (14 August 2017). "Israeli billionaire arrested in int'l money laundering probe". jpost.com. Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 21 February 2018.
  38. ^ "רומניה: זוכו אנשי העסקים הישראלים שהואשמו בהונאת ענק". ynet (in Hebrew). 2019-06-27. Retrieved 2019-12-08.
  39. ^ "Coup Claims Against Steinmetz Land French Newspaper With Fine". 2018-09-07. Retrieved 2019-12-08.
  40. ^ https://www.24heures.ch/a-geneve-le-milliardaire-beny-steinmetz-defiera-ses-accusateurs-215359104834
  41. ^ Reuters Staff (2021-01-22). "Swiss court finds Israeli businessman Beny Steinmetz guilty of corruption". Reuters. Retrieved 2021-01-22.
  42. ^ swissinfo.ch/ilj, Reuters/Keystone-SDA/SWI. "Swiss court hands diamond magnate five-year prison sentence". SWI swissinfo.ch. Retrieved 2021-01-22.
  43. ^ "מי הגיע לאירוע ההוקרה של קרן אניאס ובני שטיינמץ? - גלובס". Globes. Retrieved 2017-07-26.
  44. ^ "The Agnes & Beny Steinmetz Foundation". www.steinmetz-foundation.com. Retrieved 2017-07-26.
  45. ^ "netanya.ac.il/Interested/Scholarships/Pages/Scholarships7.aspx". www.netanya.ac.il (in Hebrew). Retrieved 21 February 2018.
  46. ^ "חוגגים עשור לקרן אניאס ובני שטיינמץ | המגזין של פרויקט אמץ לוחם". ametz.awis.org.il (in Hebrew). Retrieved 21 February 2018.
  47. ^ "קרן אניאס ובני שטיינמץ | עמוד הבית". www.steinmetzfoundationnews.com (in Hebrew). Retrieved 21 February 2018.
  48. ^ "אירוע חגיגת עשור לקרן אניאס ובני שטינמץ". steinmetzfoundationnews.com (in Hebrew). Retrieved 21 February 2018.