A key associate of mining magnate Beny Steinmetz has declined to testify at an arbitration hearing in Paris at the last minute, on the advice of his lawyers.
The hearing at the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes was told this morning that Asher Avidan, a former president of BSG Resources in Guinea, would not be answering questions about his role in a controversial mining deal in the West African country.
Mr Avidan, a former member of Israel’s internal security service, Shin Bet, had been due to speak this afternoon and tomorrow. It is unclear whether his testimony will yet be rearranged. The hearing lasts until June 2.
BSGR is seeking arbitration with the government of Guinea, which stripped it of its rights to an iron ore deposit in 2014, claiming the company had bribed its way into the country.
Mr Steinmetz, who describes himself as adviser to BSGR, claimed in his testimony earlier this week that his company was the victim of a conspiracy and denied paying bribes.
In December both Mr Steinmetz and Mr Avidan were held under house arrest by Israeli police investigating corruption in Guinea.
Mr Avidan’s failure to speak at ICSID follows reports that BSGR refused to take part in a separate arbitration case with Brazilian miner Vale, its one-time partner in developing the Simandou project. BSGR could be forced to pay up to $1.2bn (£926m) for failing to appear at the Vale arbitration in London.
A spokesperson for BSGR said: “BSG Resources has been advised by legal counsel that it cannot comment on any live situation during the ICSID court case”