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Buried Secrets - How an Israeli billionaire wrested control of one of Africa’s biggest prizes

Author: Patrick Radden Keefe, New Yorker, Published on: 8 July 2013

Steinmetz [Beny Steinmetz, of Beny Steinmetz Group Resources, B.S.G.R.] plunged into Africa’s treacherous political waters. In the nineteen-nineties, he was the largest purchaser of diamonds from Angola; later, he became the biggest private investor in Sierra Leone. Today, Steinmetz is the largest buyer of rough diamonds from De Beers, and one of the major suppliers of Tiffany & Company. And he has diversified his holdings into real estate, minerals, oil and gas, and other fields, with interests in more than twenty countries. A Web site that Steinmetz recently set up describes him as a “visionary” who used a “network of contacts on the African continent” to build “a multi-faced empire.”...When President Condé set out to clean up Guinea’s mining industry, he discovered a generous ally in George Soros. “I was aware of the magnitude of the problem in Guinea,” Soros told me. “I was eager to help.” He enlisted Revenue Watch to provide technical support in revising the mining code. He also suggested that Guinea hire Scott Horton, an attorney at the U.S. law firm D.L.A. Piper; Horton has conducted dozens of corruption investigations around the world...When we spoke in Cap d’Antibes, Steinmetz did not seem worried [by corruption investigations into BSGR's actions]. “We have zero to hide,” he said...For the moment, the iron ore remains locked inside the Simandou Mountains, and the site is still cut off from the rest of Guinea. “Everyone wants Simandou,” Condé told me as we sat in the palace. “It became the obsession, literally, of everybody.” He continued to talk, in his professorial way, but a note of bewilderment crept into his voice. “Looking at the iron ore, the grade is world-class. The quality is world-class. Yet, in so many years, we haven’t been able to benefit from any of these tremendous resources.” President Condé paused. Then he murmured something, almost to himself: “How can we be so rich and yet so poor?” [also refers to Rio Tinto, Vale]

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Related companies: Beny Steinmetz Group BSG Resources (part of Beny Steinmetz Group) Rio Tinto Vale