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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Monday, January 22, 2018

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Israeli Diamond magnate Steinmetz arrested in bribery case

Swiss and U.S. authorities were also involved

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JERUSALEM, Israel - A prominent billionaire businessman and four other suspects were arrested by the Israeli police following raids in a money laundering case.

The billionaire diamond magnate, Beny Steinmetz and others were taken into custody on a battery of charges, including money laundering, obstruction of justice and bribery.

According to the police, the suspects were arrested and questioned on Monday, following a joint investigation with Swiss and American authorities into a case involving use of fake documents in fictitious real estate deals abroad.

Without identifying the detainees in their statement, the police said that they were all suspected of having "acted together and methodically with the prime suspect in order to create and present fictitious contracts and deals... on a foreign country in order to transfer funds and launder money.”

The statement, which did not name the foreign nation, and said that "in line with the developments in the investigation, a decision will be made whether to bring any of those involved to court for a discussion of the case.”

The added that searches were carried out in the suspects' homes and offices.

The 59-year-old Israeli, Steinmetz is a Geneva-based diamond-mining magnate with an estimated worth of just over $1 billion (Forbes).

He is best known for his business dealings in the iron ore industry in Guinea.

He was arrested by Israeli authorities in December on suspicion of bribing officials as part of a series of probes into alleged corruption in Guinea, Switzerland, and the U.S.

He faced allegations of bribing officials in the African country of Guinea to promote business interests there and had spent two weeks under house arrest at the time.

In a statement quoted by the Financial Times, Ronen Rosenblum, Steinmetz’s personal lawyer said that Israeli police had taken him for questioning at a police station in Lod, central Israel.

Rosenblum added that he did not yet know whether his client would be formally arrested or taken into court.

Rosenblum said that he was not aware whether the questioning of his client related to the Guinea investigation or to the reports of alleged real estate transactions aired in the Israeli press.

Steinmetz had denied any wrongdoing.

The arrests were first reported by Calcalist, the Israeli financial publication, and the Ynet news service that said five people, including Steinmetz, were arrested by Israeli police in connection with an investigation into alleged fraud and money laundering using false contracts in an unnamed foreign country.

According to the Israeli media, Swiss and U.S. authorities were also involved in the investigation.

 

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