Swiss police have raided one of the homes of billionaire Beny Steinmetz,
said to be Israel's
richest person, according to a person familiar with the matter who asked to remain anonymous.
Bloomberg reported that the raid was ordered by Geneva’s public prosecutor following a request by the government of Guinea and occurred within the last two weeks. No documents were taken away, the person said.
According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, 57-year-old Steinmetz has a net worth of $7.4 billion. His mining company, BSG Resources Ltd., owns a 51% stake in the Simandou iron ore deposit in Guinea.
The west African country is reviewing mining licenses including Simandou’s. In April, a US grand jury investigation began into claims that bribes were paid by BSG Resources for mining rights in Guinea, Bloomberg reported.
Henri Della Casa, a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office in Geneva, declined to comment on the raid. The public relations offices of the Geneva police was unavailable for comment. Ian Middleton, a spokesman for BSG Resources in London, declined to comment as well.
According to Bloomberg, last month Geneva’s public prosecutor said it had opened an investigation at Guinea's request into Onyx Financial Advisors UK, a London-based company whose chief executive officer, Dag Cramer, is a director of BSG Resources.
BSG Resources Limited issued the following statement in response: "The ongoing smear campaign against BSGR, organised on behalf of President Alpha Conde and the Government of Guinea by George Soros and his various NGOs, including Global Witness, has now been extended to Beny Steinmetz.
"In Conakry, the capital of Guinea, two local Guinean employees of BSGR have been detained without charge for five months. This is despite the Court of Appeal ordering their immediate release having found no evidence against them. They are being used as economic hostages and judicial victims of the Guinean State. This is a clear breach of executive power and of international law.
"In an attempt to justify their continued illegal detention, and ultimately linked to Guinea’s ongoing attempts to expropriate illegally mining rights belonging to BSGR at Simandou, the Government of Guinea has sent direct requests to the Swiss authorities to collect information on its behalf."
Marc Bonnant, lawyer to Steinmetz, said: “The Swiss authorities received a request from the Conakry Court of First Instance to collect information on behalf of the Government of Guinea. This is a co-operative, inter-governmental measure that is entirely standard procedure. Mr Steinmetz offered to collaborate with the Swiss authorities, is cooperating fully, and is very happy to do so.”