Frederic Cilins, 50, described by Guinean Justice Minister Christian Sow as an agent of BSGR, is accused of offering to pay a witness to lie to the grand jury and to turn over documents for him to destroy, according to the indictment filed today in federal court in Manhattan. BSGR is controlled by billionaire Beny Steinmetz, who is Israel’s richest person, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Cilins, who was arrested in Jacksonville, Florida, April 15, was charged with five criminal counts. Prosecutors claim that Cilins “repeatedly attempted to obstruct the grand jury investigation” in conversations and meetings with the witness, the former wife of a dead high-ranking official of the West African nation.
Cilins appeared in federal court in Jacksonville today. He was ordered held until a judge rules on his bail application.
BSGR said last month that Guinea is preparing to strip its joint venture with Vale SA (VALE5) of its mining rights in the country. The venture is planning a $10 billion iron ore mine in the country at Simandou. The dispute intensified amid a government review into the agreements signed with mining companies.
The U.S. said Cilins offered to pay the witness as much as $5 million to give him the original copies of contracts that showed an alleged corrupt deal involving an unidentified mining company and her former husband and to sign a false affidavit. The contracts had been requested by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, prosecutors said.
The U.S. claims it has a recording of a meeting between Cilins and the witness in which Cilins learned a grand jury was investigating the mining company’s conduct.
Cilins repeatedly told the woman that the documents in her possession needed to be destroyed “urgently,” prosecutors said.
The case is U.S. v. Cilins, 13-mj-00975, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
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