A Geneva court has found Israeli billionaire Beny Steinmetz guilty of corruption.
Steinmetz, who is reported to be a silent backer of New York real estate, was sentenced to five years in jail for paying bribes to a Guinean public official in order to secure rights to an iron-ore mine.
The official, Mamadie Toure, is the wife of Guinea’s late former president, Lansana Conté. Steinmetz’s lawyer denied the tycoon had been involved in any payment, according to Bloomberg News.
“The fact that Steinmetz wasn’t aware of all details doesn’t change a thing,” the judge said. “Steinmetz had his hand on the payments and was able to oversee the bribery process.”
Steinmetz reportedly described the ruling as a “big injustice.” His lawyer said they would appeal.
Last month, Steinmetz was sentenced to five years in a separate case in Romania. In that case, the court found Steinmetz and his partner Tal Silberstein, a media consultant, had collaborated with a Romanian businessman and the grandson of the country’s former king in an attempt to defraud the state.
Steinmetz, who made his fortune in the diamond trade, is also reportedly a silent real estate investor, according to sources. In the past he has been tied to the Chrysler Building and HFZ Capital Group, though the latter “vigorously” denied his involvement in its Chelsea project, the XI.
[Bloomberg News] — Sylvia Varnham O’Regan