Mining Tycoon, Steinmetz, Kushner, Guinea, Switzerland and…

Israeli billionaire Beny Steinmetz has been at the centre of an international investigation into alleged bribery to win mining rights in Guinea. (Image from Beny Steinmetz’s website)

Beny Steinmetz: Mining tycoon in Swiss trial over Guinea deal

A billionaire French-Israeli diamond magnate, Beny Steinmetz, has appeared in court in Switzerland to face trial over alleged corruption linked to a major mining deal in Guinea.

He has always denied his company, BSGR, paid multi-million dollar bribes to obtain iron ore mining exploration permits in southern Guinea in 2008.

He travelled to Geneva from Israel for the two-week trial.

If convicted he could face up to 10 years in prison.

Steinmetz, 64, was previously sentenced in absentia to five years in prison by a court in Romania for money laundering.

Swiss prosecutors say Steinmetz paid about $10m (£7.4m) in bribes, in part through Swiss bank accounts, to gain the rights to Guinea’s iron ore deposits in the Simandou mountains.

The area is believed to contain the world’s largest untapped iron ore deposits.

His lawyer Marc Bonnant says “we will plead his innocence”.

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Where there’s a Diamond, A Benny Steinmetz and Fake Contracts… There’s a Fraudy

Beny Steinmetz, the Israeli diamond mining magnate, was taken into custody by Israeli police on Monday on suspicion of fraud, obstruction of justice and bribery.

The 61-year-old billionaire, who is one of Israel’s wealthiest men, was detained alongside four other suspects as part of a joint international investigation by Israeli, Swiss and US authorities.

Israeli police gave few details of the allegations but said the five men were suspected of creating fake contracts to move and launder money.

Detectives raided the men’s homes and offices and a judge granted police permission to detain Mr Steinmetz until Thursday for questioning.

Steinmetz, who founded the BSG Resources (BSGR) mining company, denies any wrongdoing.

Appearing before a magistrate’s court in central Israel, the businessman hit out at Israeli investigators and George Soros, the Hungarian-American investor with whom he has had a long-time rivalry.

“I feel terrible that the state of Israel is doing this to me. This is customary in totalitarian states. It’s like a dictatorship that decides and marks people,” Mr Steinmetz said.

“There is nothing, the whole investigation is nothing. There are those who have marked us here. It’s political. George Soros marked me. We did not do anything.”

Mr Steinmetz has not been charged with a crime. A spokesman declined to comment.

Police said in a statement that the men were detained on suspicion of money laundering, fraud, forgery, obstruction of justice and bribery.

The police raids on Monday were the latest in a long string of legal troubles for Mr Steinmetz, who lives mainly in Geneva and has dual Israeli-French citizenship.

Israeli police placed him under house arrest for two weeks in December 2016 on suspicion of bribing officials in the the west African country of Guinea to advance BSGR’s business interests.

car in Guinea
The Simandou project in Guinea has been stalled for years

The house arrest was lifted in January and he was released without charge but on the conditions that he hand over a 100 million shekel (£21m ) guarantee and not leave Israel  for six months.

BSGR gained access to half of Guinea’s giant iron ore seam, known as Simandou, in 2008 after paying a small amount for the mining rights. It later sold half its concession to Brazilian mining giant Vale for $2.5bn, although just $500m was paid.

Simandou is thought to be the world’s richest untapped deposit of iron ore, used in steel. The deposit had been wholly owned by FTSE 100 giant Rio Tinto until BSGR’s arrival.

The Guinean government stripped BSGR of its access in 2014 after concluding that it had bribed its way to the rights.

BSGR denies any wrongdoing and has threatened to file a lawsuit against Mr Soros, accusing him of orchestrating a defamation campaign against the company and encouraging Guinea to strip it of the Simandou rights. Mr Soros’s representatives have dismissed Mr Steinmetz’s claims as a “PR stunt”.

Asher Avidan, a former president of BSGR in Guinea, was taken into custody alongside Mr Steinmetz. Mr Avidan was also placed under house arrest and released in January.

Among the others detained were Tal Silberstein, a prominent Israeli political consultant, and David Granot, the acting chairman of Israeli telecoms giant Bezeq.

Mr Silberstein had been doing polling work for Austria’s Social Democratic Party ahead of parliamentary elections in October but the party cut ties with him after learning of his detention in Israel.

Bezeq said in a statement that Mr Granot’s detention was “not related to the company”.

With Israeli Billionaires Profiting From Human Capital in Congo, What Responsibility do they Play?

 

Congo rights group: Army kills 12 rebels after Beni attacks

BENI, Congo — Congo’s army fought off attacks in and around the eastern city of Beni on Thursday, killing at least 12 assailants and capturing seven, a local human rights group said.

Two soldiers also were killed in the fighting and several people were wounded, including students taking exams, said Omar Kavota, executive director of the Center for Studies of Peace and Defense of Human Rights.

Kavota blamed a new rebel coalition for the bombing of a school and attempted attacks on a women’s prison, a police station and the town hall.

The death toll could rise as Congo’s military pursues other attackers, he said.

Beni Mayor Nyonyi Bwanakawa blamed the attack on Mai Mai rebels. Kavota, however, warned that a new rebel coalition has formed outside Beni after armed men on June 11 attacked the city’s central Kangbayi prison, killing at least 11 and freeing 900 prisoners.

The new coalition, which Kavota called the National Revolutionaries Movement, is likely composed of rebels from the Mai Mai, Allied Democratic Forces and former M23 members who escaped prison.

Kavota said the new coalition may have external political and military support, given the logistics of the attacks, and he called on the government and military to quickly dismantle the group.

Kavota, whose organization tracks civilian deaths in the region, also called on the military to increase protection of civilians and public places.

Eastern Congo is home to multiple armed groups that compete for control of the region’s vast mineral resources.

http://www.startribune.com/congo-rights-activist-says-army-kills-7-attackers-in-beni/430095063/

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The Death of Katumba?- a Billionaire Financier’s 29,900%, Congo, Fleurette, and a Funeral Embrace

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Questions for our Readers to Ponder:

Was the death of Augustin Katumba Mwake in 2012 an accident?

Is what appears to be a very close relationship between Joseph Kabila, (who wrested control of Congo after his father was assassinated) and Dan Gertler deniable?

Had Dan Gertler as of 2014 really attracted $7 billion worth of investment in the Congo (as he claimed to critics then) or simply exploited the country for its resources, and the Congolese people for cheap labor?

How many of the events depicted in news today are attributable to the relationships that Mr. Gertler has with Kabila and the exchanges that have been made for mining rights?

 

DRC mining billionaire turns 29,900% profit on oil deal

Billionaire mining financier Dan Gertler has been accused by human rights group Global Witness of a strip and flip transaction in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Bloomberg reports according to official records Nessergy, an oil driller owned by the Israeli businessman, paid $500,000 for 95% of Congo’s portion of the offshore block in 2006.

Congo’s government paid $150 million to buy it back last year, according to le Soft, a Kinshasa-based newspaper, but none of the details of the transaction has been made public despite DRC government regulations requiring large contracts involving the country’s natural resources be made publicly available within 60 days.

Bloomberg could not secure comments from either Nessergy nor the African nation’s Oil Minister, while Gertler’s financing firm, the Fleurette Group, said it is protected by confidentiality agreements with the DRC and Angola, which are jointly developing the field.

Reuters quotes a Fleurette spokesperson as saying the $500,000 signing bonus was “the standard amount companies paid to Congo for oil rights at the time the contract was agreed” and that the block’s value had risen sharply since discoveries in nearby Angolan fields.

It is not the first time Gertler’s name has been mentioned with regard to questionable natural resource deals in the DRC.

Gertler is the grandson of Moshe Schnitzer, Israeli diamond exchange founder, and arrived in the Congo in 1997 shortly after the military coup that put current president Joseph Kabila’s father in charge of the resource rich country which is almost the size of Western Europe.

Gertler is said to have used his relationship with the younger Kabila and his now late adviser Augustin Katumba Mwanke to bag mining projects “by stripping from others if necessary, only to sell them on at great profit.”

Now delisted Kazakh mining group ENRC, was forced to pay out $1.25 billion to Canadian mining firm First Quantum in 2012 after the DRC government expropriated First Quantum’s Kolwezi copper projects in the country only to sell them onto ENRC via Gertler.

ENRC acquired a 50.5% stake in Camrose, a company controlled by the Gertler family trust, for $550 million last year.

Camrose owns a stake in Africo Resources, listed in Toronto, which partners with DRC’s state-owned Gecamines in various copper-cobalt, gold and iron projects and dominates the DRC diamond trade.

Kabila has on occasion dispatched Gertler as special peace envoy for the DRC and Gertler answers his critics by saying he’s attracted $7 billion worth of much-needed investment to the war-torn country.

http://www.mining.com/drc-mining-billionaire-turns-29900-profit-on-oil-deal-70917/

Gertler, a Wedding, Congo, Kabila and Katumba

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https://mg.co.za/article/2012-08-23-suspicion-circles-israeli-diamond-maven-who-understands-negroes

Suspicion circles Israeli diamond maven who ‘understands negroes’

Recorded in about 2 00, the revealing slur was made during the early days of the Israeli diamond ­scion’s ambitious Democratic Republic of Congo venture.

It is a venture that gained him an unsavoury reputation after he ingratiated himself with two successive DRC presidents and a shadowy presidential adviser and kingpin while laying claim to a host of sought-after mining concessions – in often shady circumstances and on often questionable terms.

Now Gertler is dogged by investigations in Israel, where it is alleged he made large payments to companies said to have been controlled by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman while Lieberman held other public positions.

Analysis: Sexwale’s African ventures court controversy

Gertler denied the claims, whereas Lieberman declared that he had sold his shareholdings. Prosecutors and police remain suspicious.

An ultra orthodox Jew, Gertler hails from an influential line of diamond traders. His grandfather, Moshe Schnitzer, founded Israel’s Diamond Exchange and Gertler established his own firm when he was just 22. He arrived in Kinshasa soon afterwards.

Military training
This was in about 1999. The DRC was tied up in a civil war and then-president Laurent Kabila needed money. Gertler made short work of befriending the president and bagged his first big deal: exclusive rights to export the country’s artisanal diamonds. In return, Gertler was said to have promised Kabila $20million on unclear terms and it was alleged that he had promised to organise arms and military training for Kabila’s fighters.

However, the details of whatever military assistance was discussed with Kabila senior have been fiercely disputed in Israeli courts after Yossi Kamisa – a former Israeli border policeman said to have been roped in for the task – sued Gertler for breach of contract in 2004 after he was cut from the deal.

In Kamisa’s version, he was summoned to Lieberman’s Jerusalem office in July 2000 and told that he and Gertler were “partners” in  “future transactions with tremendous economic potential”. In court papers Kamisa claimed: “Gertler explained that paying bribes is very accepted in Congo and that his stay in the country, connected with making the transaction, had already cost him more than a million dollars.”

Gertler has consistently and vehemently denied Kamisa’s claims and he and Lieberman later reached a settlement with Kamisa retracting his allegations, causing the court to reject the case outright.

In his appeal against the dismissal of the case, which was also rejected, Kamisa presented a transcript of a disturbing conversation between the two. Gertler, who was removing Kamisa from the deal, offered his version of African politics, as reported by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz: “A kushi [a derogatory Hebrew term for a black person] who wants something from you ‘sits on your vein’ … A negro likes to talk and make promise after promise, blah blah blah …”

Politics of negroes
Kamisa then claimed that, if it was not for him, Gertler would not have landed the concession, to which Gertler responded: “Yossi, either you are mentally ill or I don’t know what. Are you saying that the diamond contract was signed because of you?” And then: “Yossi, you don’t get it. I understand the politics of negroes.”

Lieberman has strenuously denied his role as described by Kamisa.

After Kabila senior was assassinated in 2001 and succeeded by his son, Joseph, Gertler was able to rekindle relations with the new incumbent as well as his notorious adviser, the late Augustin Katumba Mwanke. Gertler then moved on to claim more lucrative mining concessions in the country.

More recently, Gertler has been hammered by human rights campaigners and international media for “secretly” acquiring mining assets from the DRC government using a complex web of offshore companies. Whereas Gertler’s role in these companies has either been deduced or acknowledged, the companies’ full lists of beneficiaries remain unknown.

The most infamous example was the Kolwezi copper and cobalt tailings project, “grabbed and flipped” from First Quantum through a Gertler company to Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation (ENRC) in 2010.

Others described by human rights campaigner Global Witness include:

  • SMKK copper and cobalt mine: A Gertler-linked company acquired a stake in this mine from the DRC for $10million in February 2010 and sold it to ENRC for $75million that June.
  • Kansuki copper and cobalt mine: The DRC transferred a stake to a Gertler company in July 2010. A month later, Glencore took control of half the stake but is financing the entire mine development.
  • In May 2011 the DRC government transferred the remaining 25% stake in Kansuki to another Gertler “associated” company for $17million. Global Witness cited valuations suggesting the stake was worth between $86million and $209million.
  • Mutanda copper and cobalt mine: The DRC sold an allegedly undervalued 20% stake to another offshore Gertler company in March 2011.

Gertler does not deny that he “enjoys a close friendship” with Joseph Kabila and he openly attended Katumba’s funeral early this year. He also claimed to have served in the mysterious role of the Congo’s “honorary consul” in Tel Aviv.

But through a spokesperson he ­stridently rejected all claims of impropriety.

According to him, his proximity to the Kabilas and Katumba had no bearing on his business deals. And, he said, the mining assets were purchased, not “grabbed”, at a fair price and sold – “not flipped” – thus bringing significant investment into the DRC.

Gertler prefers to draw attention to such investment, claiming to have spent millions on “community support and environmental programmes” in the DRC, as well as the Chabad House he finances in Kinshasa, advancing his orthodox views.

Please see the original article: https://mg.co.za/article/2012-08-23-suspicion-circles-israeli-diamond-maven-who-understands-negroes

 

Dan Gertler/Benny Steinmetz – How Many Resources are Required to Remove Stories from a Google Search?

28 MINUTES AFTER PUBLICATION OF AN ARTICLE…

Dear Loyal Readers:

Dan Gertler, Benny Steinmetz and others have been linked to billions of dollars in fraud, smuggling diamonds, abhorrent mining practices in various African nations, shady deals, hidden bank accounts, potential tax evasion, and staggering illicit behavior. We are in the process of compiling articles and posting and, interestingly, where other stories have been and continue to be optimized fairly quickly on Google, the Gertler/Steinmetz stories seem to magically disappear.

As of about 1 hour ago, it took 28 minutes from publication for a story to be removed from visibility on Google. It is apparently very important to someone that Gertler’s/Steinmetz’s stories not be publicized.

As a countermeasure, call it mining for diamonds, gold or platinum using the Gertler, Steinmetz and Platinum parlance, we ask that each visitor kindly open more than one story, if only for a second. Share the information. Share the sites. Link to related stories. Clearly there is a reason that someone wants us silenced and it is not “philanthropy.”

 

SEE THE FOLLOWING STORIES WHICH HAVE BEEN REDUCED IN RANK:

http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/news/article-4074334/Spotlight-secretive-billionaire-deals-Congo-SFO-steps-probe-one-UK-s-biggest-corporate-scandals.html

http://mondoweiss.net/2016/10/ignores-israeli-bribery/

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2012/dec/09/enrc-congo-mining-billionaire

https://www.wsj.com/articles/glencore-to-pay-534m-for-dan-gertlers-stakes-in-two-congo-copper-mines-1487002598

https://www.globalwitness.org/en/campaigns/oil-gas-and-mining/congo-secret-sales/

 

 

 

 

Dan Gertler: Glencore, Katanga Mining and Ellesmere Global Limited (BVI) – Trust for Gertler’s Family (2012)

To read this article in its entirety: http://foreignpolicy.com/2012/04/23/glencore-what-the-documents-tell-us/

Glencore: What the Documents Tell Us

“Ken Silverstein’s riveting investigation of Glencore, the “biggest company you never heard of.” Below are some of the documents he uncovered in his year of reporting on the hyper-secret, shady global commodities giant.”

It is big, very big. The 1,637-page initial public offering (IPO) prospectus Glencore released last year revealed just how vast its reach is: The company controls more than half the international tradable market in zinc and copper and about a third of the world’s seaborne coal; is one of the world’s largest grain exporters, with about 9 percent of the global market; and handles 3 percent of daily global oil consumption. All of this, the prospectus says, helped the firm post revenues of $186 billion in 2011. Click here to see the prospectus document.

It is not afraid of operating in high-risk “frontier” regions. In a report on the IPO, Deutsche Bank says the company “benefits directly from the volatility” in global commodity prices — especially in poor countries. Consider what the bank identifies as Glencore’s “key drivers” of growth: copper in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), coal in Colombia, oil and natural gas in Equatorial Guinea, and gold in Kazakhstan. Deutsche Bank delicately calls these places “frontier regions” or “challenging political jurisdictions” — put simply, they all offer a dangerous mix of extraordinary natural wealth and various degrees of instability. (See page 12.)

It is well-connected in failed states. Glencore has managed to do business in the DRC, the poster child of the resource-cursed failed state, with the help of Dan Gertler, a diamond businessman from Israel who is known for his intimate ties to President Joseph Kabila. (He even reportedly has lent Kabila his private jet.) Glencore and Gertler are, through subsidiaries, shareholders in Katanga Mining. In 2009, Glencore sold stock in Katanga at roughly 60 percent of its market value to Ellesmere Global Limited, a British Virgin Islands firm whose “ultimate owner is a trust for the benefit of the family members of Dan Gertler,” according to Canadian insider-trading records. Ellesmere quickly sold the stock back to Glencore at close to full market price, netting a profit of about $26 million.

It pays associates in unusual deals. In another example, detailed in this March 2011 contract, Samref Congo Sprl, a subsidiary 50 percent owned by Glencore, waived its rights of first refusal to acquire an additional stake in Mutanda Mining, a copper and cobalt producer, from Gecamines, Congo’s state-owned mining company. Samref instead recommended that the shares be sold to Rowny Assets Limited, one of the offshore firms owned by Gertler’s family trust. (See clauses C and D on pages 3-4 of the Gecamines contract.) It’s not clear why Samref would have passed on the Gecamines offer, because business records and documents suggest that Gertler’s trust picked up the Mutanda shares for a fraction of their value. Plus, the president and vice president of the Panama-registered Samref Overseas S.A., which owns Samref Congo Sprl, are both Glencore officials, and the vice president, Aristotelis Mistakidis, is even one of the handful of Glencore executives who became billionaires after the IPO. “We preferred to invest our money in developing Mutanda — building the mines and the plant,” Glencore spokesman Simon Buerk said in an e-mail explaining why the firm did not buy the shares.

It knows how to look the other way. In Congo-Brazzaville, Glencore bought oil from shell companies set up by the state oil company’s head, Denis Gokana (conveniently trained at its London office), according to a lawsuit by Kensington International, a Cayman Islands-based corporation. Glencore complied with court orders and was not charged, but the ruling judge wrote that he “did not consider that Glencore’s personnel … could not have appreciated that Sphynx Bermuda [another company named in the suit that had contracted with Glencore] was somehow linked to the Congo (although ignorant of the exact nature of the link) and that payment would ultimately go to the SNPC [National Petroleum Company of the Congo].)

It has a criminal past. Leveraging ties to dictators has always been at the heart of the business empire built by famous fugitive Marc Rich. Although Rich left the firm in the 1990s, Glencore profited handsomely by dealing with Saddam Hussein under the 1996-2003 U.N. Oil-for-Food Program, which allowed the Iraqi dictator to trade limited quantities of oil in exchange for humanitarian supplies. The U.N.’s Independent Inquiry Committee reported in 2005 that Hussein had awarded special “allocations” to companies and individuals who were friendly to the regime — including Pakistani businessman Murtaza Lakhani, a Glencore agent and conspicuous regime sycophant. The Iraq Survey Group, the U.S.-led fact-finding mission sent after the invasion, concluded that Glencore was “one of the most active purchasers” of oil under the Oil-for-Food Program and had paid $3,222,780 in “illegal surcharges.” Glencore was not charged in the scandal. It claimed it was unaware surcharges were being paid and that Lakhani’s high fees reflected the extra risk of doing business with Iraq, not slush money for bribes. (See page 144.)

It stashes money in tax havens. Another reason Glencore is so rich: Its effective global tax rate for 2010 was just 9.3 percent, in large part because nearly half its 46 subsidiaries are incorporated in “secrecy jurisdictions,” opaque financial havens like the Netherlands, according to a report by the NGO Publish What You Pay.

Its business partners have been investigated for bribery. Glencore’s shady dealings reach around the world. To take just one example, a 2008 U.S. Senate report revealed that an unidentified client of the LGT Group, a bank owned by Liechtenstein’s royal family, discussed setting up a Panamanian shell corporation and bogus foundation to pay bribes on Glencore’s behalf. “A small portion of the payments go … to the USA and Panama and may be classified as bribes,” reads an internal LGT memo. The client, a Glencore agent, had set up the account in 2002; prior to that, Glencore had made such payments directly, the memo says. An LGT executive refused to testify to the Senate about whether the bank had set up the Panamanian corporation or foundation as requested.

It has worked with Romanian criminals. In the mid-2000s, Glencore used an Israeli agent named Yoav Stern, who also represented the Romanian interests of Yakov Goldovsky, who had previously been convicted in Russia for asset-stripping state-run enterprises. Another Glencore business partner here was Romanian businessman Marian Iancu. Glencore sold him crude oil through an offshore company he controlled, Faber Invest & Trade, for processing at the Rafo refinery in Romania. Iancu was indicted for tax evasion and money laundering in 2006 and convicted in late 2011. A WikiLeaked U.S. State Department cable described Rafo as “embroiled in a web of corruption, money laundering, fraud and criminal charges” and included Faber among its “shady entities.”

It has done deals with oligarchs. Glencore funneled roughly $2 billion through an offshore company to the oligarch Mikhail Gutseriev, described in a WikiLeaked cable as “not known for his transparent corporate governance.” Reportedly booted by the Kremlin as chief of the state-owned oil firm Slavneft for resisting the company’s privatization, Gutseriev made a comeback with Glencore’s help. The cash infusion allowed Gutseriev to establish RussNeft, now one of Russia’s largest oil companies. Glencore owns nearly half the equity of four of RussNeft’s oil production subsidiaries and has sole rights to market its oil.

It has high-level political protection:  In Kazakhstan, Glencore owns slightly more than half of Kazzinc, a huge gold, lead, and zinc producer. Because corruption can make the country treacherous terrain for foreign investors, they often require a powerful local sponsor with close contacts to the resident, Nursultan Nazarbayev. Glencore’s is one of the best: Bulat Utemuratov, a major investor in Verny Capital, Kazzinc’s second-largest shareholder with a 42 percent stake. In March 2011, a group of opposition politicians issued a public letter complaining that Kazzinc and other former state firms had been privatized under murky conditions that allowed Utemuratov and other insiders to pick up vast stakes thanks to their ties to the ruling family. Glencore could be stripped of its assets in the country, said the letter, adding, “Upon any change of regime in Kazakhstan to a democratic one, any acquisition of any shares in Kazzinc … will be subject to review.”

Please read the article in its entirety from Foreign Policy: http://foreignpolicy.com/2012/04/23/glencore-what-the-documents-tell-us/

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