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Beny Steinmetz trial over corruption charges linked to mining deal in Guinea opens in Geneva

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"Steinmetz trial: the largest corruption case in the mining sector goes to court in Geneva", 11 Jan 2020

Mining magnate Beny Steinmetz will finally have to respond to the charges against him in court, seven years after the case was opened. According to Geneva’s public prosecutor, from 2005 onwards, the businessman engaged in a “corrupt pact” with former president of Guinea Lansana Conté, who was in power from 1984 to 2008, and his fourth wife Mamadie Touré. At least USD 8.5 million were transferred to Touré – partly through Swiss bank accounts. The aim was to oust a competitor (Rio Tinto) and guarantee that Beny Steinmetz Group Resources (BSGR) would obtain the concessions for one of the largest reserves of iron-ore in the world, the Simandou mine, in 2008. The “deal of the century” (Sunday Times) ensured BSGR a profit totalling approximately twice the size of the Guinea state budget at the time...

The businessman has always denied the corruption accusations and his lawyer Marc Bonnant will plead not guilty.

The affair demonstrates how tax havens can be used to conceal questionable – or even illegal – activities in countries with weak governance and regulation... To put an end to such scandals, Swiss legislation needs to cover acts linked to the creation, management or administration of companies or trusts. It is also vital that data on the true or beneficial owners of companies are published in Swiss company registers.