When Beny Steinmetz, the Israeli millionaire, arrived at Athens airport on a private plane over two weeks ago, he was detained by Greek police and is now in custody.
While in Romania on Nov. 24, an international arrest order was issued for Steinmetz, who was released the next day on the condition that he does not leave Greece. According to AFP, he was arrested by the Greek and Romanian governments after his bribery conviction in Bucharest in December. Israeli businessman Eitan Maoz, Steinmetz’s lawyer, said that his arrival at Athens airport was delayed because of a “severe failure” in the communication of Interpol’s red notice removal. It’s our goal that Mr. Steinmetz will return to his house and company as soon as possible.
Red alerts are issued by Interpol as a warning to all law authorities throughout the globe to arrest anybody. Today, Interpol does not post any red notifications on its website. Before acquiring the Simandou iron-ore deposit near Geneva, Switzerland, Steinmetz, 65, earned his money in diamond trading. Instead of being his most outstanding achievement, that investment triggered years of legal problems that resulted in his conviction for paying Guinean authorities to acquire the rights to Simandou in Geneva in January of this year.
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After being jailed briefly in Israel in 2016, he was put under house arrest. He has been the subject of inquiries in France and Israel because of his dual citizenship. How long Steinmetz will be detained in Greece is unknown; a judicial hearing might take up to 90 days. European Union law governs the extradition agreements between the two nations.
In the first week of January 2021, Beny Steinmetz was found guilty of paying a public official in Guinea billions of dollars in bribes to gain an iron-ore mine worth billions of euros.
On Friday, Judge Alexandra Banna condemned Steinmetz to five years in prison in a Geneva courtroom. Mamadie Toure, the wife of Guinea’s dead former president Lansana Conte, received $8.5 million in bribes from Steinmetz and two of his associates to gain mining rights to the Simandou iron-ore mine. Steinmetz’s interests in African mining have generated controversy and many investigations, but no convictions have been made. After seeing Toure just once, his attorneys said he had never directed anybody to pay her. After three days of debate, Banna and the other two judges rejected such reasoning.
His conviction in Romania prompted Romania to issue a European Arrest Warrant, which was transmitted to Greece by the Ministry of Justice. The Romanian Justice Ministry indicated that the process for that warrant is “currently under progress,” but refused to disclose additional specifics.
During Steinmetz’s trial, his lawyer said that he would appeal the result, arguing that the evidence against his client was “fragile” and that the court should have considered it when rendering its decision. Steinmetz’s new Swiss attorney, Daniel Kinzer, is now in court and unavailable for comment. Steinmetz is also appealing to the Romanian conviction.
Steinmetz was permitted to return to Israel within hours of his Swiss sentence because of an anomaly in Swiss legislation. Before the trial, his attorneys were given court guarantees that he would not be held to persuade him to testify.
According to Israeli media sources, Steinmetz’s legal team has also appealed the Romanian conviction, claiming flaws in the case’s prosecution.