Israeli businessman Beny Steinmetz has labelled George Soros “nuts” and accused him of trying to upset his hopes of developing the Simandou iron ore mine in Guinea, according to a report in London’s The Telegraph newspaper.
The claim was made during testimony given by Mr Steinmetz during an arbitration panel hearing in Paris between BSG Resources (BSGR) and the government of Guinea.
Mr Soros had outlaid “$US40-US50 million out of his own pocket to destroy me”, Mr Steinmetz claimed, according to the newspaper report of the proceedings.
BSGR claims Mr Soros, when advising Guinean President Alpha Condé, was instrumental in the decision to strip the company of its mining licences in 2014, due to a personal grudge against Mr Steinmetz.
“He has an obsession with me … he’s nuts,” Mr Steinmetz said, according to the report of the hearing. “He met Condé, he corrupted the process [of issuing mining rights]. When he came, there was a mining industry. Now the mining industry is shut up.”
Last month, BSGR said it would sue Mr Soros for at least $US10 billion in damages for his alleged role in conspiring to deny the company its rights to half of Simandou, believed to be the largest untapped iron ore deposit in the world.
Guinea claims BSGR used bribery to gain the rights shortly before the death of the former president, Lansana Conté, in 2008.
During the hearing, Mr Steinmetz was critical of claimed FBI transcripts of a conversation between a BSGR associate, Frederic Cillins, and the former wife of Mr Conté, which appeared to show Mr Cillins acting on Mr Steinmetz’s instructions in attempting to destroy evidence of alleged bribes.
“He is totally lying,” Mr Steinmetz told the hearing, according to the newspaper report. “I have never spoken to Cillins about this. I have never given any instruction. This is just using my name for free.”
Mr Cillins was subsequently jailed in the US for two years for obstructing a criminal investigation, the newspaper report said. Mr Steinmetz repeated his assertion that although his family was a beneficiary of BSGR, he was merely an adviser to the company, drawing an annual fee of up to $US1 million, according to the report.
If BSGR’s appeal succeeds, it could have its rights to half of Simandou reinstated.
Rights to the other half of the block were owned by Rio Tinto until it sold to Chinese investors last year. Situated inland, the Simandou deposit remains undeveloped, as the costs of building it are thought to be prohibitively high.
A spokesman for Mr Soros dismissed BSGR’s claims as a “PR stunt”, according to the newspaper report.