Billionaire Benjamin Steinmetz, the owner of two iron and gold mining companies in the Balkans, particularly Mecedonia and Kosovo, who is wanted by anti-fraud prosecutors in Romania, has been arrested in Israel for alleged money laundering.
Israeli billionaire Benjamin Steinmetz, who has strong business ties to the Balkans, was detained for questioning alongside three other businessmen on Monday for allegedly using fake contracts to move and launder money in connection with an iron-mining operation in Guinea.
One of Steinmetz’s associates, political advisor Tal Silberstein, who was close to former Romanian president Traian Basescu, former Prime Minister Adrian Nastase and former Prime Minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu, is also among the detained businessmen, according to Ha’aretz.
Steinmetz, who owns the Cunico Resources ferro-nickel mining company which operates in the Balkans as well as Gabriel Resources, a gold-mining company seeking to reopen a mine in Romania, was also arrested in December 2016 for his suspected role in a sprawling corruption case involving tens of millions of dollars linked to iron exploitation in Guinea.
According to Forbes magazine, Steinmetz is one of the richest people in the world.
Steinmetz, Silberstein and Israeli politician Yitzhak Rabin’s former chief of staff Shimon Sheves are wanted in corruption cases involving high-ranking dignitaries in Romania.
They are on trial in absentia in Bucharest for their alleged involvement in a large real estate scam in the northern suburbs of the capital Bucharest.
According to the indictment submitted to the court in 2016 by anti-graft prosecutors, the Israeli businessmen allegedly set up a criminal group that bribed Romanian officials to assign large real estate in North Bucharest to Paul Philippe of Romania.
Steinmetz and Silberstein have also been investigated by the Romanian organized crime prosecutors in link with a cyber-identity theft.