Billionaire HFZ backer Beny Steinmetz arrested

Silent real estate investor released, but must stay in Greece

Billionaire Beny Steinmetz (Wikipedia, Getty Images)
Billionaire Beny Steinmetz (Wikipedia, Getty Images)

Israeli billionaire Beny Steinmetz is trapped in Greece after being briefly detained at an airport in Athens two weeks ago.

The sometime real estate investor was detained on an international arrest warrant on Nov. 24, Bloomberg reported. He was released within 24 hours under the condition that he remain in Greece. Greek and Romanian authorities coordinated the arrest, which stemmed from a bribery conviction in Romania.

Romania’s Supreme Court handed down a five-year sentence last December, overturning a lower court’s June 2019 decision to acquit Steinmetz and business partner Tal Silberstein. The high court ruled the pair collaborated with a Romanian businessman and the grandson of the former king in an attempt to defraud the state.

A lawyer for Steinmetz attributed his Athens arrest to a communication breakdown regarding an Interpol notice.

“We are handling this matter and hope that Mr. Steinmetz will return [to] his home and his businesses quickly,” his lawyer told Bloomberg.

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Beny Steinmetz (Getty)
Beny Steinmetz found guilty of corruption
Beny Steinmetz, The Belnord at 225 West 86th Street and HFZ CEO Ziel Feldman (Getty, Google Maps, iStock)
New York
Diamond magnate Beny Steinmetz backed HFZ's Belnord: documents

It’s the latest headache for Steinmetz, who was found guilty of corruption by a Geneva court earlier this year. He was sentenced to five years in jail for bribing a Guinean public official to secure the rights to an iron-ore mine. His lawyer said that decision would be appealed.

For years, Steinmetz has been reported to be a major backer of New York condo developer HFZ Capital Group, which the developer has denied. This summer, a document deep in a lawsuit filed against HFZ by a purported lender appeared to link HFZ and Steinmetz.

An organization chart attached as an exhibit in a lawsuit against HFZ showed “Benny [sic] Steinmetz and Family Trusts” had a 60 percent interest in the company that ultimately controlled the condo conversion of the Belnord in 2015.
As his legal troubles unfold, Steinmetz remains in Greece for the foreseeable future. There are worse places to be stuck, but according to Bloomberg, a court hearing could be as much as 90 days away.

[Bloomberg] — Holden Walter-Warner

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