Mining tycoon Benny Steinmetz has accused “George Soros-funded campaigns” of distorting the Swiss legal system, after a Geneva appeals court upheld bribery charges and a prison sentence against him.
Steinmetz was sentenced to prison in January 2021 for bribing his way to gain control of the massive iron ore deposit at Simandou in Guinea.
The Geneva Court of Appeal rejected his plea to overturn the conviction on Tuesday, but reduced his sentence from five years to three, suspended for 18 months. It upheld a fine of 50 million francs ($55 million).
Appeals from two of Steinmetz’s assistants were also denied.
Shortly after the court issued its decision, Steinmetz vowed to file another and final appeal to the Swiss Federal Court in Lausanne, the country’s highest court.
A spokesman for the Israeli-French billionaire residing in Switzerland denounced the “unfair decision” of the Geneva court.
“[Beny Steinmetz] He has been looking forward to making his case at the federal level ever since [the federal court] It is an institution independent of the camaraderie of local justice in Geneva as well as the campaigns funded by George Soros.”
A Soros spokesperson said Steinmetz’s claim was “ridiculous”.
Steinmetz earlier accused Soros, whom he has a longstanding grudge against, of having engineered his legal troubles by funding activists, political dissidents and law firms in Guinea to thwart the success of his investments there.
In 2017, in a failed defamation case, Soros was accused of paying the key figure in his bribery conviction, Mamadi Toure, wife of late Guinean President Lansana Conté, to provide evidence against him.
Steinmetz was later convicted by Swiss judges two years ago of paying $8.5 million to Toure to secure access to the Simandu deposit.
The Geneva Court of Appeal said Steinmetz had engaged in a complex and sophisticated scheme to corrupt Toure and secure the lucrative rights to Simando.
“Great efforts were made to conceal the corrupt enterprise,” the court said, citing plans to restructure the holding companies’ structures to hide the route of the money as well as a direct approach to Tory to try to obtain and destroy incriminating documents in her possession.
However, it overturned a conviction for forgery that had been handed down by a lower court against the Israeli investor.
The Guinean government stripped Steinmetz subsidiary BSG Resources of its rights to Simandou – one of mining’s richest prizes – in 2014, after concluding that the billionaire had bribed public officials.
Steinmetz’s supposed partner in the venture, Brazilian mining group Vale, subsequently launched a lawsuit against him, accusing him of luring him into fraudulently the deal.
Vale dropped a $1.2 billion personal claim against Steinmetz in London last year, on the grounds that too much time had passed since the disputed events for a legal claim to be valid under UK law.
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