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Israeli tycoon in Swiss court over alleged bribes in Guinea

Israeli diamond and minerals magnate Beny Steinmetz goes on trial in Switzerland on charges of corruption and forging documents in an alleged bid to win lavish iron ore mining concessions in Guinea by paying millions to a former wife of late President Lansana Conte.

Steinmetz, 64, the only one of three defendants present today in the Geneva court, has denied the charges. The alleged plot involved Steinmetz’s BSGR Group squeezing out a rival for mining rights for vast iron ore deposits in Guinea’s southeastern Simandou region over several years.

In an opening statement, Steinmetz lawyer Marc Bonnant says the alleged corruption took place many years ago, raises questions about why the other defendants are absent, and calls on the Geneva tribunal to declare “null and void” the case against the tycoon.

Attendance at the courtroom in Geneva’s old town has been limited because of concerns about COVID-19.

French-Israeli diamond magnate Beny Steinmetz (L) arrives with his lawyers for his trial in Geneva on January 11, 2020. (Fabrice Coffrini/AFP)
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