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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Mr. Seabrook, Will It Ever Be More Clear Who Has Pull in New York? A Losing Appeal

Former jails union boss Norman Seabrook loses appeal in bribery case

Disgraced jails union boss Norman Seabrook is going to jail.

The former leader of the Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association lost an appeal Tuesday of his conviction for accepting a $60,000 bribe in exchange for a $20 million investment of members’ money in a doomed hedge fund.

Seabrook had been out on bail while he fought the case. The decision means it is highly likely he will have to begin serving his sentence of four years and 10 months.

His appeal had hinged on his belief at the time he made the investment that it would get good returns for correction officers. He said details of the loss suffered as a result of the hedge fund, Platinum Partners, going bankrupt prejudiced his right to a fair trial.

The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals rejected those arguments. Seabrook, the three-judge panel noted, had suppressed warnings from a union lawyer that the investment was risky.

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Indictments in Israel Coming, Litzman and Deri

Indictments Expected Against Both Deri and Litzman in the Coming Weeks

After the dramatic announcement that he is going to file criminal indictments against Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Attorney General Dr. Avichai Mandelblit in the near future is expected to make a similar announcement regarding Interior Minister Aryeh Deri and Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman.

Litzman will face charges of bribery, breach of trust and fraud and Deri’s charges will include money laundering, fraud and breach of trust.

According to a report released by KAN News11 correspondent Mordechai Gilit, the attorney general delayed the decisions regarding Deri and Litzman until completing his work on the cases involving Prime Minister Netanyahu.

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Netanyahu Indicted – Fraud, Breach of Trust, Bribery

POLITICO Playbook PM: Trump’s man in Israel indicted on bribery and fraud charges

BREAKING IN ISRAEL — “Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu Indicted on Bribery, Fraud, Breach of Trust Charges,” by WSJ’s Felicia Schwartz in Tel Aviv: “Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was indicted on bribery charges Thursday, imperiling the country’s longest-serving leader as he looks set to fight for his personal and political future in a third election contest.

“Israel’s Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit said Mr. Netanyahu will be charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust in connection to three corruption probes known as Cases 1000, 2000 and 4000. Mr. Netanyahu allegedly traded official favors for flattering news coverage as well as gifts worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, including pink champagne, cigars and jewelry. The bribery charge, a key element of Case 4000, is the most serious and, if convicted, Mr. Netanyahu could face up to 10 years in prison. The lesser charges could result in three to five years in jail.” WSJ

— @jaketapper: “I’m sure this will alarm all of those who profess to be concerned about corruption abroad.”

NYT JERUSALEM BUREAU CHIEF DAVID HALBFINGER: “There were already signs of unrest in Mr. Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party, as a popular younger lawmaker, Gideon Saar, called Thursday for a primary contest for prime minister, and said he would be a contender.

“Even if Mr. Netanyahu fends off intraparty challengers, and assembles a viable coalition in Parliament, Mr. Plesner said that the Israeli president, Reuven Rivlin, might balk at assigning him the task of forming a government while he awaits trial. In addition, critics are expected to petition the Supreme Court to rule that Mr. Netanyahu must step down.” NYT

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Rechnitz, Rivington, JCOPE, Care One, Podolsky and Democratic Kingmakers – De Blasio’s Sordid Campaign Finances

Dear Reader:

In our view, when someone donates to a campaign, to the legal limits of that campaign, the politician is beholden.

Politicians, lobbyists and the kingmakers of New York know how the system works. A person can legally donate to the Democratic Committee, to de Blasio’s campaign bids as mayor and now as a potential Presidential candidate, to the not-for-profits associated with the Mayor and to other small organization associated with the mayor. None of those donations is illegal. To the best of our knowledge, even if all roads lead back to de Blasio, even if each penny somehow washes through de Blasio’s hands like sands in an hourglass, the donations are still quite legal, but are they really?

If when grossed-up the donations are all legal, in our view when taken as a whole, the gross-up of the aggregated proceeds of those donations may amount to a form of legal bribery. It should be stopped. We assert further that the aggregated proceeds of the donations could amount to a form of money laundering and conspiracy and while it may be legal (or not) we are most certainly not sure it is ethical.  

As a political matter, De Blasio’s loyalties, and those of each of the organizations from which he obtains financial assistance, must naturally rest with the person who has a shekel here, a dollar there, even if each was given legally. And, we don’t see how it is not a conflict of interest when there is a person within the entire structure that sits on multiple boards or within the rank and file of multiple organizations with which de Blasio works and from which he gains his political clout (and perhaps his legal or campaign advice).  A contract here, a faulty appraisal there, the closing of an entire hospital center for luxury redevelopment, leaving people on the streets, all legal – “ish?”

We posit that if the people involved in the multiple organizations are also those chosen to make kings out of Judicial hopefuls, to destroy careers when necessary, to allocate money to political hopefuls and the list goes on, there can be nothing but a conflict of interest.

Someone should be paying attention lest New York, more specifically Brooklyn, sink into the abyss of corrupt G-dfather like politics.   

Following the money…. will keep you posted.


De Blasio’s history of campaign finance scandals

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is no stranger to fundraising scandals, even if the allegations never fully stick. Just last week, The City reported on a previously undisclosed investigation by the city Department of Investigation into potential conflict of interest violations in relation to de Blasio’s fundraising. Earlier this month, the mayor received scrutiny for receiving donations from the lawyer at the heart of a controversial real estate deal between the city and shady landlords.

Here are the other times de Blasio’s fundraising tactics have gotten him into hot water:

Federal campaign finance investigation

In 2013, de Blasio set up a nonprofit called the Campaign for One New York to support his agenda. The now-defunct organization came under federal investigation for possible campaign finance violations in 2016. Federal prosecutors from the Southern District of New York subpoenaed thousands of emails and documents from the mayor, his aides, donors to both his 2013 mayoral campaign and the Campaign for One New York to see if donors received favorable treatment from the de Blasio administration. The investigation led to the indictment of two de Blasio donors who became cooperating witnesses – restaurateur Harendra Singh, who admitted to attempting to bribe the mayor through straw donations made to his actual campaign account, and real estate developer Jona Rechnitz, who pled guilty to conspiracy charges and later testified about his close relationship to de Blasio and other benefits as a result of his donations and fundraising. At the investigation’s conclusion in 2017, federal prosecutors did not press charges against de Blasio, but did say that he acted on behalf of donors who sought favors.

Rivington House lobbying

De Blasio and his administration received extensive scrutiny from both New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer and the city Department of Investigation for how the city handled the sale of Rivington House, a former nonprofit health care facility, which is now being developed for residential purposes. A for-profit nursing home company, Allure Group, bought the property in 2015 and paid the city $16 million to lift a deed restriction that required the property to remain a nonprofit health care facility, with the expectation that the company would instead build a for-profit nursing home. Instead, Allure sold the property to Slate in 2016, which plans to convert the building to residential use and build condos. The city admitted that it had been “misled” by Allure. Prominent lobbyist and frequent de Blasio donor James Capalino represented both the original owner and Slate. Capalino steered $40,000 to de Blasio 2017 reelection campaign and cut a check for $10,000 to Campaign for One New York after pressuring the city to change the deed.

Around the same time, de Blasio also made headlines for a questionable fundraiser hosted by Suffolk Construction in Boston, a company that is currently looking to expand its business in New York City and recently hired de Blasio’s former public housing commissioner Shola Olatoye. De Blasio did not publicize the fundraiser and did not disclose the host when asked by reporters – but everything was still above board, he later argued, even if the lack of transparency made it seem like de Blasio was “violating the spirit” of his own promise not to accept campaign cash from donors with business before the city, as WNYC’s Brian Lehrer saidwhile interviewing the mayor.

State campaign finance investigation

The state also investigated the Campaign for One New York, although it took a more narrow purview and focused specifically on de Blasio’s fundraising efforts on behalf of state Senate Democrats in 2014, which was only one part of the federal inquiry. State prosecutors, in conjunction with federal prosecutors, sought to determine if de Blasio attempted to circumvent campaign contribution limits by giving donations solicited by de Blasio to smaller county committees, which have no contribution limits. Rechnitz testified that both Ross Offinger, a former campaign fundraiser for de Blasio, and the mayor personally asked him to donate over $100,000 to bolster those efforts. Like in the federal investigation, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. did not press charges against the mayor in 2017, but did say that while there was not enough evidence to indict de Blasio, his actions “appeared contrary to the intent and spirit of the laws that impose candidate contribution limits.”


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Philip Esformes, Allegations of Medicare and Medicaid Fraud, Bribery, Patient Churning, and Pocketing Money

From Law360 – Subscription

Esformes Was Obsessed With Facilities’ Census, Feds Say

Law360, Miami (March 11, 2019, 9:48 PM EDT) — The government on Monday painted a picture of nursing home owner Philip Esformes as a micromanager obsessed with patient counts at his facilities, showing jurors in the blockbuster health care fraud trial the daily predawn text messages he’d sent requesting census numbers and venting his concern when they dipped below capacity.

With expert witness Michael Petron, a forensic accounting consultant, on the stand, the prosecution showed jurors daily 5 a.m. texts from Esformes’ cellphone to a “Frank” at Oceanside, his skilled nursing facility on Miami Beach, asking for the census number at the facility, which Petron said maxed out at 196 patients.

The responses from Frank — generally 195 or 196 — backed up what Petron says he found after analyzing the Medicare claims data for Oceanside: that the facility was generally at or very close to capacity at all times.


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ADDITIONAL READING FROM LAW360 (kindly subscribe for full articles):

Ex-Hospital Director Says Nursing Home Owner Offered Bribes

Nursing Home Mogul Churned Patients For Profit, Jury Told

Witness Details Kickback Deals At Nursing Home Mogul’s Trial



Esformes, University of Pennsylvania, Basketball, Bribes and Lawsuits

From Law 360 – Must be subscribed:

Esformes’ Attys Take On Ex-Penn Coach Over Bribery Claims


Law360, Miami (March 12, 2019, 10:58 PM EDT) — Miami nursing home owner Philip Esformes’ attorneys tried Tuesday to poke holes in former University of Pennsylvania men’s basketball coach Jerome Allen’s story that he accepted bribes to get Esformes’ son into Penn, saying the two men’s relationship was not merely transactional and pointing to Allen’s mentoring of Esformes’ son.

With Allen back on the stand after testifying Friday, defense attorney Brad Horenstein displayed dozens of friendly text messages between Esformes and the former collegiate coach, who described last week how he received about $300,000 in bribes from Esformes to get his son Morris on the Penn basketball team and into the Wharton School of Business.


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