Swiss police raid Geneva offices of Steinmetz-linked company

GENEVA/LONDON Thu Aug 29, 2013 10:12am EDT

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GENEVA/LONDON Aug 29 (Reuters) - Swiss police on Thursday searched the Geneva offices of Onyx Financial Advisors, a company providing management services for BSGR, the mining arm of Israeli billionaire Beny Steinmetz's business empire, an Onyx spokesman said.

A security guard at the property said about 20 police officers arrived in the early morning, brought up documents from the basement and stayed for several hours.

"Onyx has absolutely nothing to hide. We are co-operating fully with the authorities but are unable to comment further at this time," the spokesman said.

He was unable to confirm whether the search was connected to an international probe into BSGR's mining concessions in Guinea, where it is battling for the right to mine half of Simandou, one of the world's largest untapped iron ore deposits.

A spokesman for the Geneva police declined to comment.

The Guinean government has accused BSGR of paying bribes to obtain its concession under a previous government, but BSGR has repeatedly denied wrongdoing.

As part of a U.S. corruption probe involving Guinea, FBI agents in April arrested BSGR agent Frederic Cilins, on charges of obstructing a criminal investigation, tampering with a witness and destroying records. Two men have also been arrested in Guinea.

Onyx is a company which BSGR has described as wholly separate and fully independent, though it provides administrative and management services for BSGR. Onyx's chief executive is also a director on the board of BSGR. (Reporting by Clara Ferreira-Marques in London and Emma Farge in Geneva; Editing by Erica Billingham)

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