Guinea: Investigation reveals secret dealings between a UK Conservatives' CEO and a Bribery Scandal Billionaire over mining bloc

Get RSS feed of these results

All components of this story

Report
3 May 2019

Revealed: Secret Dealings Tying UK Conservatives’ CEO to Billionaire embroiled in Bribery Scandal

Author: Global Witness

A company fronted by the Chief Executive of the British Conservative Party is set to pay $50 million to seal a deal between the government of Guinea and a mining firm that has engaged in high-level bribery there, Global Witness reveals...The controversial deal...aims to extricate billionaire Beny Steinmetz from criminal investigations that have been launched in Switzerland, Israel and elsewhere. Dame Margaret Hodge, the British MP who has spearheaded the fight against corporate secrecy, has said: “These shocking revelations unearthed by Global Witness demonstrate how far and wide corruption is seeping into the UK.” She said that “a major political figure like Mick Davis has no place making shady deals with crooked billionaires like Beny Steinmetz”. Mr Steinmetz and his company BSGR have denied any involvement in bribery...

“As the Chief Executive and Treasurer of Britain’s governing party, Mick Davis should be setting an example —not fronting offshore companies and striking deals that get mining billionaires accused of bribery off the hook,” said Daniel Balint-Kurti, Head of Investigations at Global Witness. “Mr Davis’s actions fly in the face the UK government’s efforts to end secrecy over company ownership, which has long protected corrupt deal-makers from scrutiny.”

The company led by Mr Davis, called Niron, is owned by a Bahamas company called Global Special Opportunities Ltd (GSOL), according to the UK corporate registry. The Bahamas is a well known secrecy jurisdiction, which means that companies such as GSOL can keep their owners secret. The agreement says that Niron will pay Guinea the $50 million, and be granted mining rights to a block previously confiscated from BSGR over corruption allegations. Niron has not signed the agreement, although it has addressed the matter in a separate, confidential letter to BSGR. As well as the $50 million payment, Global Witness’s story today reveals other new details of BSGR’s saga, including...

BSGR has said corruption allegations are “entirely baseless” and that it always acted “to the highest standards of corporate governance”. GSOL said it operates to the “highest professional, ethical and environmental standards”. Niron says on its website that it “is committed to achieving the highest environmental, social and ethical standards in all its activities”. It said: “GSOL brings to Niron experience in mining, logistics and infrastructure development, as well as significant financial resources”.

Read the full post here

Report
3 May 2019

Secret Dealings Tying UK Conservatives' CEO to Bribery Scandal Billionaire - Senior British politician has serious questions to answer over bribery-tainted mining block

Author: Global Witness

A company fronted by the Chief Executive of the British Conservative Party is set to pay $50 million to seal a deal between the government of Guinea and a mining firm that has engaged in high-level bribery there. The controversial deal...aims to extricate billionaire Beny Steinmetz from criminal investigations that have been launched in Switzerland, Israel and elsewhere...Global Witness has previously exposed how the company BSGR, led by Steinmetz, bribed the wife of the Guinean president to obtain one of the world’s largest iron ore concessions in 2008... 

Under the deal, struck by BSGR and Guinea in February, Niron – the company headed by Davis - will get rights to mine a concession called Zogota. This was one of the blocks withdrawn from BSGR over corruption. Steinmetz is now to be a co-investor alongside Niron. At the same time, Guinea is to withdraw from criminal proceedings targeting Steinmetz in Switzerland and has promised not to make any “disparaging remarks” against Steinmetz or BSGR for ten years...The opaque settlement process also involves the world’s fifth biggest accountancy company, BDO...Between 2012 and 2014, Global Witness exposed how BSGR bribed the wife of Guinea’s then-president with millions of dollars to obtain a gigantic iron ore concession in the Simandou mountains...Once BSGR got the rights in 2008 it promptly sold half of them to the world’s number one iron miner, Vale, for $2.5 billion—twice Guinea’s entire national budget at the time...But in February this year, Guinea and BSGR stunned observers after suddenly agreeing to end the dispute, in a deal...

Niron said: “GSOL brings to Niron experience in mining, logistics and infrastructure development, as well as significant financial resources. ”It added: “Beny Steinmetz does not have a participation in Niron through GSOL but may have a minority participation directly in Niron in the future depending on the development and success of the project and subject to the agreement of all relevant parties.” BDO, as administrators for BSGR, said: “At this stage, we are not in a position to comment on the ownership structure or ultimate beneficial owners of Niron or GSOL.”...

GSOL said it operates to the “highest professional, ethical and environmental standards”. Niron says on its website that it “is committed to achieving the highest environmental, social and ethical standards in all its activities”...BDO wrote: “The suggestion that the potential settlement of the arbitration between BSGR and Guinea was presented as a fait accompli, which the administrators went along with, is false and misguided.” It said that the administrators have complied with legal obligations and are acting in the best interests of creditors. BDO said it has “made clear throughout to the company’s former management and intermediaries that they have no legal authority to, and should not purport to, commit BSGR to any arrangement without the administrators’ unambiguous express authority.”

   

 

Read the full post here