November 15, 2017 / 2:15 PM / a month ago

Billionaire Steinmetz allowed to leave Israel despite corruption probe

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - An Israeli court on Wednesday ruled that billionaire businessman Beny Steinmetz will be allowed to leave the country despite an investigation into possible bribery and corruption in Africa linked to his mining company, BSGR Resources.

Steinmetz’s travel has been restricted since his arrest in December over allegations that he, along with other Israelis living abroad, paid tens of millions of dollars to senior public officials in West African country Guinea to advance their businesses.

A lawyer representing Steinmetz repeated his client’s denial of wrongdoing and pointed out that no charges have been brought against him in the investigation.

The court ruled that Steinmetz could now leave Israel but is not allowed to travel to Africa and all but six countries in Europe. He will be permitted to fly only on commercial flights with an escort approved by the police.

As part of international efforts to improve transparency, Guinea’s government under President Alpha Conde, elected in 2010, launched a review of mining contracts signed before 2011.

Within its review the West African nation investigated how BSGR obtained the rights to the Simandou deposit, the world’s largest untapped iron ore reserves, in 2008.

Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch and Tova Cohen; Editing by David Goodman

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