Israel Police Place Lien on Luxury Homes Owned by Billionaire Beny Steinmetz

The claim on two properties worth more than $50 million comes as mining magnate Beny Steinmetz remains under house arrest over suspected role in major African corruption case.

Beny Steinmetz, 2013.
Tomer Appelbaum

The police have placed a lien on two houses owned by Beny Steinmetz, the billionaire arrested last week for his suspected role in an African corruption case involving tens of millions of dollars.

The two houses owned by the businessman, who is under house arrest, are estimated to be worth over 190 million shekels ($50 million). They are located in Arsuf on the Mediterranean coast north of Herzliya.

The information about the claim on the two properties until debts are paid appears in a police filing to the Rishon Letzion Magistrate’s Court.

Steinmetz was arrested on suspicions of money laundering and bribing officials in Guinea, where he does business. His house and offices were raided last week.

Both his Israeli and French passports were confiscated and he is barred from leaving Israel for 180 days. His bail was put at 50 million shekels in cash and 50 million shekels in property. He will be under house arrest for two weeks.

Unlike most suspects, Steinmetz was not brought to court after his arrest; his lawyers agreed with the police on his house arrest and bail.

Because the two homes are worth much more than 50 million shekels, the police will have additional sums to use if the court confiscates Steinmetz’s property in the future.

Steinmetz’s lawyer, Yuval Sasson, said he has full confidence he will prove the innocence of Steinmetz and his mining company BSG Resources, which he said had fallen victim to an international conspiracy. Sasson said he and Steinmetz were cooperating with the authorities and would provide any guarantee required.

The investigation is being conducted with law enforcement officials from the United States, Switzerland and Guinea as part of a push by the OECD to address corruption in member states. In Israel, the police’s national investigations unit, Lahav 443, is working with state prosecutors and tax officials on the case.