Israeli businessman Beny Steinmetz and BSGR have finally been cleared of long-standing allegations and charges of corruption against them. For his part, Steinmetz had been contesting them for several years. As part of the action brought against Steinmetz, Octea Ltd., a BSGR subsidiary, was accused of harming communities located near the Koidu diamond mine in West Africa. The Sierra Leone High Court now threw out the case against Octea.
The case was found by the presiding judges to have “no merit,” and they withdrew the freeze on Koidu’s assets as well as the previously court-sanctioned gag order. This paved the way for Octea to speak out about what it believes was the true reason behind the years of contentious legal action. Asserting that all charges against it were a complete fabrication, it contended that many of the plaintiffs in the case were simply non-existent.
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Octea Says This Case Similar to Other Unfounded Allegations
An Octea spokesperson said that the company is now evaluating legal options that could be taken against those who it says attempted to damage its reputation both in and out of Sierra Leone. The spokesperson said that the case here was similar to the effort to bring unfounded allegations of bribery against Steinmetz in Guinea. The government of Guinea eventually withdrew those allegations as well.
Steinmetz Against Soros
Steinmetz alleges that the force behind the cases against him is George Soros. Soros is also the defendant in a case filed by Steinmetz and BSGR at the United States Federal Court. In that case, Steinmetz has asserted claims against Soros and the Open Society Foundation of conspiracy, interference, fraud, misinterpretation, prima facie tort, and commercial defamation while asking for a minimum of $10 billion in damages. The company says that Soros used his significant influence and financial reserves to erode Steinmetz’s rights to mine the iron-rich Simandou deposit in Guinea. BSGR had been granted exclusive mining rights to Simandou in early 2010 under then-President Lansana Conté. BSGR invested hundreds of millions of dollars in the deposit and was planning to invest an additional $1 billion in a railroad system. An agreement was also in place to reconstruct a passenger rail line that would stretch 600 kilometers across Guinea from Conakry to Kankan.
BSGR claims that Soros financially backed Alpha Conde, the presidential candidate who replaced Conté, to conspire against Beny Steinmetz using a network of non-governmental organizations that include Global Witness, Natural Resource Governance Institute (formerly Revenue Watch Institute), Transparency International, the, Publish What You Pay, as well as other independent journalism organizations such as ICIJ (International Consortium of Investigative Journalists).