Israeli Police Arrest Tycoon, Others in Bribery, Fraud Sting

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli police on Monday arrested a prominent Israeli billionaire businessman and four other suspects on a battery of charges, including money laundering, obstruction of justice and bribery, and other crimes.

The police said the suspects were taken into custody and questioned following a joint investigation with Swiss and American authorities.

One of those arrested was Beny Steinmetz, a Geneva-based diamond-mining magnate with an estimated worth of just over $1 billion, according to Forbes.

Steinmetz was also arrested by Israeli authorities in December over allegations of bribing officials in the African country of Guinea to promote business interests there. He spent two weeks under house arrest at that time.

Among the four other suspects arrested were Tal Silberstein, a former political consultant to ex-Israeli premier Ehud Barak and a current advisor to the Austrian chancellor, as well as the CEO of Israeli telecom giant Bezeq, David Granot.

Police wouldn’t elaborate on the specifics of the current investigation. A court extended Steinmetz and Silberstein’s custody later on Monday.

Israeli media reported in December that Steinmetz was suspected of bribing the former leader of Guinea and his wife for rights to mine at the Simandou range, one of the world’s largest sources of iron ore. Steinmetz’s company BSGR previously had its mining license revoked in Guinea because of corruption charges.

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