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Israeli mining billionaire detained with other leading businessmen

Beny Steinmetz, detained Monday for questioning Beny Steinmetz was detained Monday in Israel for a second time for questioning in connection with bribery of high ranking foreign officials in Guinea.

The police action was part of a joint investigation by the Israeli Police and authorities from Switzerland, the United States and Romania.

The Rishon Letzion Magistrate's Court remanded him to custody for four days.

Steinmetz had been detained in Israel last December as part of the investigation of the BSRG matter. He was released then under restrictive conditions and hadn't been indicted.

Police said Monday that additional evidence focused on suspicion of obstruction of justice, according to press reports. 

Together with Steinmetz, authorities detained Tal Silberstein, a political consultant, who has acted as a consultant to the Austrian chancellor and prominent Israeli politicians. The court remanded him to custody for four days as well.

David Granot, acting chairman of Bezeq, Israel's telecom giant (he was appointed as acting chairman after the previous chairman had to step down due to a security law violation investigation) was also detained and later released to house arrest.

Other businessmen were detained as well.

In an initial statement after the arrests, police said five suspects "were held for questioning under caution on suspicion of money laundering, fraudulent filing of corporate documents, fraud and corporate breach of trust, obstruction of justice and bribery," according to Reuters.

Lawyers for Steinmetz and Silberstein both denied wrongdoing by their clients.

Steinmetz's lawyer, Ronen Rosenbloom, said: "Mr. Steinmetz is determined to continue the fight in any legal arena in Israel and abroad ... No charges have been brought against him in any (previous) investigations and we are certain that this will be the case here, too." 

Steinmetz is also under indictment in Romania as part of an investigation there into money laundering and real estate, the New York Times said.


Chaim Gelfand is a Partner at Shibolet and Co. and head of its Anti-Corruption Compliance Practice -- one of the first (if not the first) dedicated anti-corruption compliance practices in any of Israel's first tier law firms. He has been dealing with anti-corruption compliance in large multinational companies for almost a decade. He can be contacted here.