A French citizen with ties to billionaire Beny Steinmetz and his BSG Resources Ltd. is scheduled to plead guilty today in a case charging him with interfering in a U.S. grand jury probe of bribes allegedly paid to win mining rights in Guinea, according to a court clerk.
Frederic Cilins, 51, is charged with trying to pay Mamadie Toure, the fourth wife of Guinea’s late President Lansana Conte, to turn over documents and to lie to the grand jury.
Prosecutors in Manhattan claim Cilins has a “very close personal relationship” with Steinmetz, who controls BSGR and is Israel’s wealthiest person. The U.S. said Cilins was negotiating with Toure on behalf of BSGR and Steinmetz when he was arrested April 14 at the airport in Jacksonville, Florida.
According to the government, since about January 2013 the grand jury in New York has been investigating possible violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and criminal money-laundering in connection with money intended to be used to bribe officials of Guinea’s government for an iron-mining concession in the country’s Simandou region.
Cilins was charged with witness tampering, obstructing a criminal investigation and destruction of evidence. The witness-tampering and evidence-destruction charges carry maximum prison terms of 20 years.
He was being held in U.S. custody without bail after U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III ruled in July that he presents “a serious risk of flight.” A trial was scheduled for March 31.
Cilins said he worked in 2005 and 2006 for BSGR as a go-between with Guinea in the company’s efforts to secure mining rights in the Simandou region.
The case is U.S. v. Cilins, 13-cr-00315, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
To contact the reporter on this story: Bob Van Voris in federal court in Manhattan at email@example.com