Israeli billionaire arrested in global money laundering probe

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Israeli billionaire arrested in global money laundering probe

Israel Police have asked to extend the arrest of billionaire Beny Steinmetz for eight days as well as publicist Tal Zilbershtein The Rishon Lezion Magistrates Court is now discussing the matter as well as the remand on the other three men arrested - Bezeq acting chairman David Granot, Adv. Doron Levy of the Amit Pollak Matalon law firm, and Asher Avidan, a former senior executive of Steinmetz's in Guinea and president of BSGR corporation mining division.

It was the second time Steinmetz had been arrested by Israeli authorities since December, when he was placed under house arrest as part of a corruption probe involving mining deals in the African nation of Guinea.

Israeli billionaire Steinmetz controls mining firm BSG Resources and has a net worth estimated by Forbes of US$1.02 billion, making him the 17th-richest person in Israel. It was said that they did so in order to transfer and launder money. BSGR denied any wrongdoing.

Israeli authorities investigatied the claim that Steinmetz, along with a number of other Israelis, acquired the asset by paying tens of millions of dollars in bribes to senior public officials in Guinea.

In a statement on Monday, Israeli police said five suspects were detained for questioning under caution on suspicion of money laundering, fraudulent filing of corporate documents, fraud and corporate breach of trust, obstruction of justice and bribery.

According to a police statement, investigators questioned several people who are suspected of carrying out a coordinated and systematic mechanism of fraud - particularly forging documents - mainly in the real estate field, in foreign countries.

Searches were carried out in the suspects' homes and offices, police said.

Israeli media reported in December that Steinmetz was suspected of bribing the former leader of Guinea and his wife for rights to mine at the Simandou range, one of the world's largest sources of iron ore.

BSGR last December said the investigation had been initiated by the government of Guinea, which launched a review of mining contracts signed before 2011 as part of worldwide efforts to improve transparency.

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