Diamond and mining tycoon Beny Steinmetz, who was convicted of minerals rights-related bribery in January by a Swiss court, was arrested last month in Greece when his private jet landed at Athens airport.
The Israeli magnate’s was detained on Nov. 24 on an international arrest warrant but released 24 hours later on condition he didn’t leave Greece, according to Romanian authorities. His arrest was a coordinated effort between Greece and Romania following his conviction in a separate case in Bucharest last year, Israeli news site Globes reported.
The owner of BSG Resources was sentenced early this year in Geneva to five years in prison for paying the wife of Guinea’s deceased former president, Lansana Conte, $8.5 million to secure the concession rights to the vast Simandou iron ore project.
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A loophole in Swiss law allowed him to return to Israel within hours of the sentencing. His lawyers are appealing the ruling.
Steinmetz acquired the rights to the Simandou iron-ore project in Guinea in 2008. With over two billion tonnes of reserves and some of the highest grades in the industry (66% – 68% Fe which attracts premium pricing), Simandou is one of the most easily exploitable iron ore fields outside of Australia’s Pilbara region and Brazil.
At full production, the concession would export up to 100 million tonnes per year. Simandou would by itself be the world’s fifth-largest producer behind Fortescue Metals and BHP.
After spending two days in Athens airport’s detention cells, Steinmetz was released. He remains in Greece.