BSGR applies for judicial review after SFO demands adviser documents

The mining arm of Israeli diamond magnate Beny Steinmetz’s business group, BSG Resources (BSGR), has applied to the UK High Court for a judicial review relating to a Serious Fraud Office (SFO) investigation.

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The UK SFO demanded documents from companies advising BSGR, including agent Onyx Financial and law firms Mishcon de Reya and Skadden, under section 2 notices in October. The notices compel third parties to disclose material belonging to BSGR, sources told Steel First.

The request for documents relates to BSGR’s acquisition of a licence to mine the multi-billion-tonne, high-grade Simandou iron ore deposit in Guinea in West Africa, and is linked to an ongoing international investigation into the matter.

BSGR and Mishcon de Reya lawyer James Libson said the request for information from Guinea was “politically motivated” and BSGR was seeking to have the demand for disclosure quashed.

Steel First revealed in April 2013 that the SFO, alongside a number of international anti-corruption agencies, had launched an investigation into BSGR.

Guinea launched an investigation into BSGR’s acquisition of its Simandou mining licence in 2012, as part of sweeping mining sector reforms instituted by the country’s first democratically elected president, Alpha Conde.

After a two-year investigation into alleged acts of corruption surrounding BSGR’s licence acquisition, the Guinean government agreed to strip the company of its rights to mine Simandou in April.

BSGR’s acquisition of the Simandou licence has also been investigated by the US Department of Justice, as well as justice departments in Switzerland, France, and Guernsey, where BSGR is registered.

In September, a former agent of BSGR, Frederic Cilins, was sentenced to two years in jail for obstructing the US Department of Justice investigation into mining rights fraud in Guinea.

Neither BSGR or Beny Steinmetz have had any charges brought against them.

BSGR has strongly denied any wrongdoing.

Skadden did not return calls for comment at time of publication

The SFO said that it could neither “confirm nor deny” interest in the case.

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