Israel Police Say Talks Fail With Tycoon Beny Steinmetz on Posting Bond

Israel Police said on Thursday that after a week of negotiations they were unable to reach an agreement on the terms of a bond to be deposited by the billionaire Beny Steinmetz to ensure he doesn’t send assets out of the country while he is under investigation.

At issue is an agreement Steinmetz reached with police to deposit 120 million shekels ($31.4 million) with the state receiver when he was arrested on December 19 amid allegations of bribery and corruption in Africa linked to his mining company, BSG Resources.

Steinmetz, one of Israel’s richest men, had initially agreed to deposit 120 million shekels with the state receiver, but subsequently accused the police of “blackmail” with failed threats of bringing him back to court and further embarrassing publicity.

Last week he asked Rishon Letzion Magistrates Court Judge Amit Michles to cancel the agreement and proposed another one in its place.

Michles said he was inclined to accept Steinmetz’s counteroffer, but told the two sides to negotiate a mutually acceptable solution, since the police oppose it.

“On the face of it, and without taking any position on its merits, it appears that the Steinmetz proposal meets the demands of the law based on legal precedents set by the Supreme Court,” Michles said, but declared he couldn’t ignore that an agreement had been signed by the two sides and ordered them to seek an agreement within a week.

On Thursday, the police told the court the two sides were unable to reach terms.

Steinmetz and associates are alleged to have paid tens of millions of dollars to senior public officials in Guinea to advance their businesses, police assert.

BSGR has said the allegations are baseless.

The investigations were initiated by the government of Guinea with cooperation from police in the United States, Britain and Switzerland.

Steinmetz has proposed an alternative plan for posting bond his lawyers say will meet the terms of the law and prevent him from taking assets abroad to avoid their being seized in the event he is convicted.

They said he was prepared to hand over to police his home valued at 160 million shekels in the town of Arsuf and a second residential property in the same town worth 32 million shekels.

He is also offering shares for 51% of the Millennium Tower company in Tel Aviv worth another 88 million and nontradable bonds in his company Scorpio Real Estate worth 25 million.

All told, they say the assets are worth 305 million shekels.

Steinmetz is also is asking the court to cancel attachment orders on bank accounts used by charitable and corporate funds he controls.

He said the orders were harming his businesses and preventing him from making charitable donations.

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