French-Israeli mining magnate Beny Steinmetz has been detained in Cyprus on a Romanian-issued warrant. Steinmetz was detained on his arrival into Larnaca airport on 31 August.
The mining tycoon is being held for allegedly being involved with a group trying to illegally secure land rights in Romania. The case dates back several years and he has already faced arrest in some other European countries on the same warrant but was cleared.
Steinmetz is the owner of BSG Resources (BSGR). The company is under investigation in several countries, including the US, for alleged violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The company denies these allegations.
Romanian authorities convicted Steinmetz for real estate fraud in abstensia in 2020, for which he was sentenced to five years in prison. He was then issued a European arrest warrant. In March 2022, Grecian officials rejected the Romanian arrest order. Italian leadership has also ruled against carrying it out.
“Beny Steinmetz welcomes the opportunity to be vindicated in one more European State, against Romania, a country infamous for its disrespect to human rights,” Steinmetz’s spokesperson told reporters in a statement.
International NGO Global Witness has previously accused BSGR of bribing the wife of a Guinean president to ensure parts of the Simandou iron ore deposit. The company has denied the allegations.
Steinmetz was sentenced to jail in Switzerland in January 2021 for having bribed his way to controlling the Simandou iron ore deposit. The Geneva Court of Appeal rejected his plea to have the conviction overturned earlier this year.
Cypriot police have made no comment, as is common practice for extradition requests.