Beny Steinmetz, said to be a backer of HFZ, is under house arrest due to bribery probe

Billionaire was detained on suspicion that he paid off public officials to win mining rights

Beny Steinmetz
Beny Steinmetz

Billionaire Beny Steinmetz, who according to sources is a silent backer of Ziel Feldman’s HFZ Capital Group, is under house arrest in Israel after being arrested on suspicion that he bribed government officials in Guinea in West Africa.

Steinmetz, who heads his own mining company BSG Resources, and others were detained by Israeli police on suspicion that they bribed public sector officials with tens of millions of dollars to win the mining rights to a giant iron ore project, Simandou, Bloomberg reported. Steinmetz was released on house arrest after paying $26 million in bail. As a condition of his bail, officials confiscated his Israeli and French passports, and he isn’t permitted to leave Israel for 180 days.

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A lawyer for Steinmetz told Israel’s Army Radio on Tuesday that the allegations are a ploy by competitors like the Rio Tinto Group to steal BSG’s mining rights at Simandou. BSG won the mining rights in 2008.

Steinmetz, who has an estimated net worth of $1.28 billion and made his fortune in the family diamond business, is also a real estate investor, albeit a quiet one. He’s a known backer of HFZ Capital [TRDataCustom], sources previously told The Real Deal. Little else is known about his real estate holdings. Sources told TRD in October that HFZ Capital was in advanced discussions to land about $1.2 billion in construction financing for the Chelsea megaproject known as the Eleventh.  [Bloomberg] — Kathryn Brenzel