Settlement: Businessman Benny Steinmetz reached a settlement with the Tax Authority


by Ifi Reporter Category:Law Dec 23, 2022

Six years after the police investigation was opened against Benny Steinmetz and businessmen Avi Lev-Ran and Michal Noy on suspicion of bribing senior government officials in Guinea in exchange for mining rights worth billions of dollars, it ends today with a comprehensive settlement - on the criminal and tax levels.
According to the overall settlement, the prosecutor's office will not file an indictment against the three, in exchange for a civil forfeiture of NIS 23 million from Lev-Ran, Noy and another company. Steinmetz's share of the settlement will amount to NIS 17 million.

At the same time, Steinmetz reached a settlement with the Tax Authority in his long-standing dispute with it, under which it will be determined that he is a resident of Israel for tax purposes, and foreign trusts related to him will pay tax in Israel. In light of this, he will be taxed about NIS 300 million on the past, and will start paying future tax on his income in Israel.
The investigation against Steinmetz, Lev-Ran, Noy and other businessmen was opened in Israel in December 2016, at the same time as a criminal investigation conducted by the authorities in Switzerland. At the center of the investigation was the suspicion that Steinmetz, through strawmen and other businessmen including Lev Ran, who lives in South Africa, and Noy, who lives in France, paid a bribe of about 30 million dollars to the former president of Guinea, Nassana Conte, who passed away, as well as to his wife Mamadi Tour, in the years 2006-2012. In return, they promoted the business interests of the mining company BSGR. As part of the investigation, it was claimed that the bribe helped Steinmetz win a mining license for iron ore in the largest mine in the country - Simandau - with an estimated value of about five billion dollars. As part of the investigation in Israel, a state witness was recruited.
The Swiss investigation gave rise to an indictment filed in Geneva and revealed a worldwide route of money transfers. Steinmetz was convicted in the case in January last year in the court in Geneva for bribery and money laundering. Steinmetz, who filed an appeal against the conviction pending a decision, was sentenced to five years in prison and a fine of 50 million Swiss francs (about NIS 180 million).
At the same time, the investigation in Israel stalled, among other things because Lev-Ran and Noi, who were attributed a central suspicion of transferring the bribe money, did not arrive in Israel, even after the police froze their various assets in Israel amounting to millions of shekels.
In addition, in light of the conviction of Steinmetz in Switzerland, among other things, a legal issue arose in Israel that made it difficult to prosecute him in Israel. This is a double jeopardy: a legal situation in which a person will be prosecuted twice for the same offense while having the same set of facts. Steinmetz recently claimed in a petition to the High Court, in what appears to be a hint of behind-the-scenes conduct, that the case against him in Israel is expected to be closed.
Following the legal situation and the stalled investigation, negotiations for a settlement between the parties have been accelerated in recent months. On the part of the attorney's office, the Tel Aviv district attorney (taxation and economics), attorney Yonatan Tadmor, led the negotiations. On Steinmetz's side, attorneys Nati Simhoni and Ronan Rosenblum managed the contacts, and on Lev-Ran's side, attorneys Gil Dohuh and Galit Rotenberg.
The settlement will include a part that is visible to the public - a request for civil forfeiture, and a part that is not visible to the public - the settlement in the tax departments between Steinmetz and the Tax Authority.



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