NEW YORK/LONDON Nov 5 A committee charged with
reviewing mining deals in Guinea has given BSG Resources a month
to provide additional responses to a string of allegations
including that it paid bribes to secure contracts, setting a
hearing date of Dec. 10.
BSGR, the mining arm of Israeli billionaire Beny Steinmetz's
business empire, is battling Guinea over the right to develop
half of the Simandou deposit in the country's south - one of the
world's richest undeveloped deposits of iron ore.
The current Guinean government accuses BSGR of bribing
officials to win its Simandou concession in 2008. BSGR has
denied the allegations, and has accused the government of using
the review of mining contracts to illegally seize its licences.
A hearing next month is unlikely to be definitive, but it
would bring closer a long-awaited decision on BSGR's licences.
BSGR declined to comment on Tuesday on the Guinean
committee's request for fresh information.
In a letter, dated Nov. 1 and seen by Reuters, the
independent technical committee reviewing mining deals said
responses it had received so far from BSGR had not been enough
to dismiss the accusations levelled against the group.
The letter outlined 25 allegations, which included offering
entertainment and meals to high-ranking officials, and gifts
including cash, telephones and perfumes.
The committee said in the letter that BSG's responses to the
allegations, many of them first detailed a year ago, had so far
been either "incomplete, inaccurate or irrelevant".
It also said evidence obtained during a separate U.S.
investigation into mining corruption in Guinea raised questions
over some of BSGR's responses.
Earlier this year, FBI agents arrested BSGR representative
Frederic Cilins in Florida, on charges of obstructing a criminal
investigation, tampering with a witness and destruction of
records. That trial is expected next year.