Israeli Billionaire Beny Steinmetz May Travel Under Strict Conditions, Despite Police Probe

Beny Steinmetz, under investigation for bribery and corruption linked to his mining company, is allowed to leave Israel but is barred from Africa and all but six European states

Billionaire businessman Beny Steinmetz
Ilan Assayag

An Israeli court on Wednesday ruled that billionaire businessman Beny Steinmetz will be allowed to leave the country, subject to stiff conditions, despite an investigation into possible bribery and corruption in Africa linked to his mining company, BSG Resources.

Steinmetz’s travel has been restricted since his arrest in December over allegations that he, along with other Israelis living abroad, paid tens of millions of dollars to senior public officials in the Republic of Guinea to advance their businesses.

A lawyer representing Steinmetz repeated his client’s denial of wrongdoing and pointed out that no charges have been brought against him in the investigation.

Meanwhile, however, Police Superintendent Rafi Friedman said police were pursuing leads in the investigation in another, unnamed country.

“The suspect sought disrupt the investigation even before it began, and did so during the course of the investigation, so that the potential for further disruption is real,” he said.

The Rishion Letzion Magistrate’s Court ruled that Steinmetz could leave Israel is barred from Africa and all but six European states. He may fly only on commercial flights with an escort approved by the police and must sign a 3 million shekel ($850,000) bond each time he flies. He is also required to give 24 hours’ notice before any planned flights, and to explain why he is flying and the people he plans to meet. When in Israel, he must deposit his passport with police.

As part of international efforts to improve transparency, Guinea’s government under President Alpha Conde, elected in 2010, launched a review of mining contracts signed before 2011.

Within its review the West African nation investigated how BSGR obtained the rights to the Simandou deposit, the world’s largest untapped iron ore reserves, in 2008.