“Beny Steinmetz is not the banner of corruption. He is innocent, “said Daniel Kinzer, urging the judges to examine the facts” with fresh eyes. The 66-year-old businessman was sentenced by a Geneva court in 2021 to five years in prison and to pay 50 million Swiss francs (52 million euros) for “corruption of public officials” in Guinea , in a mining concession case. Two of his associates also appeal for lesser prison sentences.
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For three hours on the morning of September 5, Mr. Kinzer endeavored to dismantle piece by piece the thesis constructed by the prosecution and the verdict pronounced at first instance. There “is no evidence” that Beny Steinmetz participated in an attempt at corruption, said Me Kinzer, also stressing that the huge Simandou mining project carried out in Guinea by Beny Steinmetz Group Resources (BSGR), would have “benefited Guinea” and that the group was far from the image of profiteers drawn up by the prosecutor.
The testimony of Mamadie Touré, central piece
These arguments had already been presented the previous week by the tycoon himself. Steinmetz assured the judges that he had never corrupted anyone and that “BSGR has never crossed the red line”. On the contrary, he said he was himself the victim of a local power struggle. The Geneva prosecutor’s office accuses him of having put in set up a financial package via front companies to pay approximately $10 million in bribes to the fourth wife of former Guinean President Lansana Conté (who died in 2008), Mamadie Touré, so that BSGR could obtain rights mines in Guinea. Ms. Touré now enjoys the status of witness protected by American justice.
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According to Mr. Kinzer, a large number of the allegations made against his client are largely based on the written testimony of Mamadie Touré. But he points out that the defense does not have access to the terms of the “opaque” agreement made with the American courts or the possibility of questioning Ms. Touré on her statements full of “contradictions”. For the lawyer, who wonders about the competence of Swiss justice in this case, the judgment at first instance “is extremely confusing”. The Geneva Public Prosecutor was to request this September 5, the defense will then have the possibility of answer.