Israeli Police arrested on Monday morning the billionaire Beny Steinmetz, along with a well-known strategic adviser and three other business people and senior officials, for questioning under caution over alleged involvement in real estate fraud abroad and money laundering, in which they forged false contracts and signed fictitious transactions. Later today it will be decided whether to request an extension of their detention in court.
This investigation is based on suspicions of violations of the Prohibition on Money Laundering Law, forgery of a document, use of forged documents, false registration of corporate documents, fraud and breach of trust in the corporation.
The detainees are interrogated from early morning hours while police searched their homes and offices. They are suspected of having collaborated in a systematic manner in cooperation to produce and present fictitious contracts and transactions, including real estate in a foreign country, to move money around and launder ill-gotten gains.
Police claim that Steinmetz’s bribe payments totaled $30 million and that he earned $5 billion. Steinmetz’s attorney Ronen Rosenblum rejects the suspicions and argues that this is an international plot to deprive Steinmetz of assets he has accumulated lawfully.
In addition to the investigation in Israel, Steinmetz is also being investigated in Switzerland for the same cases. The Swiss are also investigating Steinmetz for money laundering. It is suspected that for the transfer of bribes he used bank accounts in Israel.
Cooperation with the enforcement authorities in the United States and Switzerland
The investigation is conducted in collaboration with the enforcement authorities in the United States and Switzerland, as well as with the Prohibition of Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing Authority and with the assistance of the State Attorney’s Office of Taxation and Economics and the International Criminal and State Department.
In December 2015, the Romanian media reported that three Israeli businessmen were involved in one of the most serious corruption cases in the country. According to reports, the three are billionaire Beny Steinmetz, Tal Zilberstein, and Shimon Sheves, who served as director general of the Prime Minister’s Office under Yitzhak Rabin.
At the base of the investigation is the suspicion that senior Romanian officials allegedly acted to help Steinmetz seize state land in exchange for gifts and bribes. According to suspicions, the group tried to take control of state lands, including a farm in an area of 2 dunams, by transferring them to the ownership of the Romanian crown prince. For this purpose, it was claimed, bribes were moved to officials, although the prince argued that these lands belonged to the royal house and that the officials had no authority to transfer the property to him.
The Romanian media reported of three senior Israeli suspects mentioned in documents and the investigation material of the Romanian Anti-Corruption Authority. The authority has reportedly also recorded tapes in which Steinmetz was allegedly talking on the telephone with the main suspect in the case, Romanian businessman Remus Troika, who arrested on Monday.
Together with the main suspect, they detained by a 30-day administrative order including the editor of a Romanian newspaper called Dan Dan Kronik, as well as the adviser Marius Markwick, who holds Romanian and Israeli citizenship. The Romanian press concluded that the damage caused to the country as a result of the corruption scandal amounted to $160 million.
Noted that in the framework of the affair an indictment was filed against Steinmetz in Romania about a year ago, and the trial is still underway.
Braybary in Guinea
Beny Steinmetz’s prior arrest was in December 2016. Steinmetz was sent to house arrest in Israel for involving his mining firm BSG Resources, and other Israeli expatriate had paid tens of millions of dollars to officials in Guinea to advance their businesses.