A mining company owned by one of Israel’s wealthiest businessmen filed a suit on Friday against the Jewish-American billionaire George Soros, accusing him of a long-running campaign to sabotage his business efforts in the African country of Guinea, Bloomberg reported Saturday.
The plaintiff, BSGR, is controlled by diamond and mining magnate Beny Steinmetz, who according to Forbes is Israel’s 18th richest citizen with a net worth of $1.1 billion.
He resides in Geneva and is a global player in the diamond-mining industry.
The lawsuit filed by BSGR in the US District Court in the Southern District of New York alleges that Soros funded a number of law firms, transparency groups, private investigators and Guinean government officials to ensure that BSGR lose its concession to the Simandou iron mine in southern Guinea, Bloomberg reported.
BSGR lost its mining rights to Simandou in 2014 over allegations of corruption, which the company claims were concocted by Soros due to a long-running feud between the two billionaires beginning in 1998 over a business dispute in Russia and Soros’s alleged animus towards Israel.
“To Soros, Steinmetz’s success, as well as his active, passionate promotion of Israeli life, business and culture are anathema,” Bloomberg quoted BSGR as saying in the complaint.
“Soros is also well-known for his long-standing animosity toward the state of Israel,” the statement said.
Soros has spent millions of dollars funding NGOs in Israel, most of them promoting democracy, pluralism and the protection of the rights of Israel’s minority Arab population.
According to Bloomberg, the suit marks the first time that BSGR has taken legal action against Soros, despite claiming for years that he promoted the corruption allegations that led the company to lose its rights to Simandou.
In December, Steinmetz was arrested in Israel on suspicion of money laundering and bribery charges in relation to Simandou following a wide-ranging investigation carried out jointly by agencies from the US, Switzerland, Guinea and Israel in coordination with the OECD.
Steinmetz, who according to the Israel Police, is accused of paying millions of dollars in bribes in the Republic of Guinea in exchange for advancing his business interests in the country, was later released from house arrest in January.
The case in Israel against Steinmetz revolves around the purchase by BSGR of Simandou, for which it allegedly shelled out $165 million in exploration costs. It sold half of it several years later for $2.5 billion.
According to the allegations, BSGR won the concession for the mineral-rich Simandou range, which had been stripped from the Rio Tinto mining corporation, after Steinmetz cultivated a close relationship with then-Guinea president Lansana Conté, who died in 2008.
One of Conté’s wives, Mamadie Touré, has been cooperating with an FBI investigation into allegations that Steinmetz bribed Conté through her.
In 2014, former BSGR adviser Frederic Cilins was sentenced to two years in prison in the US for trying to convince Touré to destroy evidence.
BSGR has denied it was involved in bribery of a foreign public employee and money laundering.
In the lawsuit filed Friday, BSGR alleges that the decision by Guinea’s government to revoke its license to Simandou was based on false information and that Toure received $50,000 from an adviser to Guinean President Alpha Condé and another $80,000 from an “agent or affiliate of Soros,” according to Bloomberg.
The company said that its suit is built on an email from a senior Soros executive concerning the ties between Guinea and BSGR over the mining contract, as well as from information provided by witnesses that Soros personally pushed for the company to lose its mineral rights.
“Soros’s financial clout gave him power over Guinea’s processes of government, which he then thoroughly abused,” Bloomberg quoted BSGR as saying in the suit.
Soros was “motivated solely by malice, as there was no economic interest he had in Guinea,” the company added.