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Israeli businessman Beny Steinmetz’s corruption appeal to begin in Geneva

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A Geneva court will on Monday begin hearing the appeal of Israeli mining magnate Beny Steinmetz against his conviction for corruption and forgery over his pursuit of iron ore deposits in Africa, the court and one of his lawyers said.

Steinmetz has consistently denied the charges for which he was sentenced to five years in jail and fined 50 million Swiss francs ($52 million) by a Swiss criminal court in 2021.

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He filed an appeal and has not served any time in jail.

In its ruling, the court found Steinmetz and two others paid, or arranged payment, of $8.5 million in bribes between 2006 and 2012 to one of the wives of former Guinea president Lansana Conte, to obtain exploration permits for iron ore buried beneath the Simandou mountains.

Conte died in 2008. The Guinean government, which was by then a different administration, made no comment at the time of the ruling.

Central to Steinmetz’s defense was his assertion he was not involved in the day-to-day running of BSGR (Beny Steinmetz Group Resources), the mining arm of his businesses that went into administration in 2018.

Steinmetz, 66, a former Geneva resident who moved back to Israel in 2016 and has in the past been ranked as a billionaire, is expected to appear in court on Monday, one of his lawyers Daniel Kinzer from CMS von Erlach Partners, said in an email.

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He is also represented by Christian Lüscher from the same law firm.

Kinzer said the two others found guilty with Steinmetz had also appealed against their conviction and their appeals would be heard with Steinmetz’s.

The court hearing is expected to last until Sept. 7, the Geneva criminal appeal court said in an email.

Simandou, in Guinea’s southeastern corner, is the largest known iron ore deposit of its kind, which analysts estimate holds more than 2 billion tonnes of high-grade ore, but legal disputes and the cost of building infrastructure mean it is untapped nearly three decades after its discovery. ($1 = 0.9619 Swiss francs) (Reporting by Clara Denina in London and Emma Farge in Geneva; additional reporting by Saliou Samb in Conakry; editing by Carmel Crimmins and Barbara Lewis)

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