Diamond magnate Steinmetz arrested in money laundering case
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Diamond magnate Steinmetz arrested in money laundering case

Billionaire is prime suspect in scheme involving use of fake documents in real estate deals abroad, police say; four others also raided, including former top banker

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Israeli businessman Beny Steinmetz on May 17, 2007. (Moshe Shai/FLASH90)
Israeli businessman Beny Steinmetz on May 17, 2007. (Moshe Shai/FLASH90)

The Police National Fraud Unit on Monday detained Israeli diamond mogul Beny Steinmetz and four others for questioning in a money-laundering investigation involving real estate deals abroad, police said in a statement.

The five were questioned under caution, meaning they are considered suspects in the case.

The suspects were brought in for questioning during the morning on suspicion of money laundering, falsifying documents, using fake documents, false registration of corporate documents, fraud, breach of corporate trust, obstruction of justice, and bribery, police said.

Raids were also carried out at their homes and offices. The other four suspects were not named, but a media report identified one as a well-known figure in Israeli banking.

A statement said police suspect the group acted “acted systematically together with the prime suspect in order to create and present fictitious contracts and transactions, among other things in real estate deals in a foreign country, for the purpose of money laundering and money transfers,” the statement said.

A police source said Steinmetz was the prime suspect in the case.

Aerial view of Conakry, capital of the Republic of Guinea. (CC BY-SA, Wikipedia)
Aerial view of Conakry, capital of the Republic of Guinea. (CC BY-SA, Wikipedia)

Steinmetz, who made billions as a diamond and mining magnate, was arrested on December 19 and accused of paying millions of dollars in bribes in the Republic of Guinea in exchange for advancing his business interests in the country.

He was held under house arrest at the time and later released.

According to Forbes, he is worth $1.02 billion, making him one of Israel’s richest people.

According to Hebrew media reports, the current probe is linked to the Africa investigation.

The investigation is being carried out in cooperation with international law enforcement bodies as well as the Israel Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing Prohibition Authority, tax authorities, and the State Prosecutor’s international crime unit, police said.

Police said it was not yet known if they would request that the suspects be kept in custody.

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