JERUSALEM Jan 4 Israel released billionaire
businessman Beny Steinmetz from house arrest without charge on
Wednesday, his mining firm BSG Resources (BSGR) and a court
spokeswoman said, following his detention over bribery
allegations involving BSGR in Africa.
Israeli authorities put Steinmetz, 60, under house arrest on
Dec. 19. Police said he and other Israelis living abroad were
alleged to have paid tens of millions of dollars to senior
public officials in Guinea to advance their businesses.
BSGR said at the time that the allegations were "baseless".
"The period of restriction has now elapsed and Mr Steinmetz
is free of all legal restrictions, with no charges relating to
any criminal activities, including bribery and corruption, being
laid against him," BSGR said in a statement on Wednesday.
Steinmetz cooperated fully with Israeli authorities in the
investigation and "will continue to do so if and when required",
the statement said.
Police said Steinmetz's release was conditional on his
agreeing not to leave Israel for 180 days and on his depositing
a guarantee of 100 million shekels ($26 million).
BSGR reiterated in its statement that the investigation had
been initiated by the government of Guinea, which launched a
review of mining contracts signed before 2011 as part of
international efforts to improve transparency.
Within its review the West African nation investigated how
BSGR obtained the rights to the Simandou deposit, the world's
largest untapped iron ore reserves, in 2008.
Anglo-Australian mining group Rio Tinto,
and BSGR have made legal claims against each other over the
mining rights in Simandou.
($1 = 3.8517 shekels)
(Reporting by Steven Scheer; Editing by Gareth Jones)