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Mining Billionaire Beny Steinmetz Sues Activist Group in London

Dec. 13 (Bloomberg) -- Beny Steinmetz, the billionaire mining investor, sued the anti-corruption activist group Global Witness in the U.K., according to London court documents.

The Dec. 12 filing, made public today, didn’t have any details of the lawsuit. Global Witness said in a report in August that it had evidence of improper conduct involving Steinmetz’s BSG Resources Ltd. and the government of Guinea.

Daniel Balint-Kurti, a spokesman for Global Witness, said they didn’t know yet what the lawsuit was about. BSGR officials filed requests recently with the U.K. Information Commissioner to obtain documents from Global Witness relating to its investigation, he said. The company has denied any wrongdoing.

“This is an attempt by a large mining group to stifle journalism in the public interest and deflect attention from one of Africa’s biggest mining scandals,” Balint-Kurti said in an e-mail.

BSGR’s stake in a Guinean site containing one of the world’s largest untapped iron-ore deposits is being probed by officials in the African country.

Steinmetz, Israel’s richest person with a net worth of about $6.4 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, has been interviewed by Swiss authorities, his lawyer Marc Bonnant said, as part of a widening probe involving at least five countries.

Bonnant didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the London claim.

BSGR said in October it is suing French publication Le Canard Enchaîné for libel over its reporting of the Guinea mining venture. The company has said Guinea is trying to seize its property illegally.

The case is Steinmetz & Ors v. Global Witness Ltd., 13-5380, High Court of Justice, Chancery Division.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kit Chellel in London at cchellel@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Fred Strasser at fstrasser@bloomberg.net; Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net

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