BSGR group lays at the center of an international plot filed with court order and litigations over the rights of mineral deposits at Simandou.
BSGR group lays at the center of an international plot filled with court orders and litigations over the rights of mineral deposits at Simandou.
Beny Steinmetz Group of Resources (BSGR) is a mining company owned by his eponym founder Beny Steinmetz, an Israeli entrepreneur. Although BSGR has built its development on its extensive diamond mining portfolio, its latest development and the source of all its troubles is related to mineral deposits mining in Guinea Conakry.
Will Guinea ever be able to extract revenues from Simandou ?
In 2008, in an effort by the Guinean Government to start and rationalize the revenues from its mining and iron ore resources General Lansana Conte awarded a three year exploitation permit on 50 percent of Simandou, whose iron ore resources are unparalleled and considered as the richest deposit of iron ore in Africa, to BSGR and ordered thereafter the relinquishing of these same rights by the previous holder, British – Australian mining giant Rio Tinto Group.
The major reason behind such a decision by the government rested then upon the fact that Rio Tinto Group, holder of the permit for the past fifteen years had not been able to launch any exploitation of Simandou.
Such a situation did constitute a major loss of revenue for Guinea and its people. One obvious reason for such reluctance from Rio Tinto to start and exploit Simandou which is shared by a majority of international observers, rests on the fact that Rio Tinto Group was already extracting Iron ore and bauxite in neighboring countries. Extending the exploitation of Simandou would very likely affect downward the prices of iron on the international trade, and therefore affect negatively the revenues of Rio-TInto Group.
David against Goliath : BSGR is going against Soros
In 2014, Guinean government, under the leadership of Président Alpha CONDE, decided to strip down the Israeli company from its rights on Simandou, based on a large scale investigation financed and supported by another billionaire, George Soros. The Guinean decision was based on the facts that the investigation led by Soros brought up allegations that BSGR had illegally obtained these rights in 2008 by corrupting persons closely related to then deceased president Lansana CONDE.
The roads to Hell for BSGR
To follow up on the finding brought up by Soros investigation, Rio Tinto then filed a suit against BSGR based on the allegations that BSGR had devised a scheme to “steal valuable mining “ rights held by Rio Tinto Group. According to BSGR, the case creation and formulation were all baseless and fraudulent, which prompted, in retaliation, BSGR to suit up and file an illegal confiscation case against Guinea with the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes.
Rio Tinto ‘s Case against BSGR was dismissed in November 2015, by a U.S. district Jdge Richard Berman, under the ruling that Rio Tinto failed to identify a pattern of racketeering activity by the defendants BSGR. This constituted the first victorious step for BSGR in the path to recover its rights and reputation.
In novembre 2016, Alan Davies, then head of Rio Tinto department in charge of Simandou was abruptly suspended after discoveries of illegal payment processed in relation to ongoing negotiations his company, Rio Tinto was processing re-acquire its past rights to Simandou.
Which justice will prevail ?
Recently, in April 2017, BSGR followed up on its path to recovery by filing a new lawsuit and claiming over ten billions US dollars of compensatory damages against billionaire George Soros in a U.S. federal court, claiming the american tycoon had engaged in a lengthy effort to defame BSGR and sabotage its business in Simandou and around the world.
As reported by Kyle Jahner, in his article of Law360 published in May 9th 2017, BSGR accused president of Guinea and billionaire George Soros of involvement in a broad conspiracy that deprived BSGR of its mineral rights in Guinea.
The way the case will procede is hard to predict due to the shrouds of ambiguity over the whole situation, but if the case is resolved in favor of the Israeli company, rights over half of Simandou can be expected to be reinstated.
However, as things are now, the case could swing either way, but from a point of view of the stakeholders, BSGR is still at a disadvantage. With iron ore prices slumping, the company may not be able to reap many profits even in case of a favorable ruling.