SG executive detained in Guinea taking case to regional court

Guinea, West Africa

* Two employees of Israeli-owned mining firm held in Guinea

* BSG denies bribery , criticises government contract review

* U.S. authorities also investigating Simandou deal


CONAKRY, June 7 (Reuters) - An executive of Israeli mining firm BSG Resources (BSGR) will appeal to a West African regional court over his detention in Guinea where he is accused of corruption, his lawyers said on Friday.


The government alleges that BSGR bribed officials and the wife of a former president to win a licence in 2008 to develop a

vast iron ore deposit.


BSGR, the mining company owned by Israeli billionaire Beny Steinmetz, denies the accusations and has criticised a government review of mining contracts which it says is designed to allow Guinea to renege on its obligations.


Ibrahima Sory Toure, a BSGR vice president in Guinea, was arrested on April 19 along with a company security official, Issaga Bangoura.


The Guinean government accuses BSGR of bribing officials and Mamadie Toure, the wife of former President Lansana Conte, to win access to the Simandou iron ore deposit. Ibrahima Sory Toure is the brother of Mamadie Toure, who lives in the United States.


Lawyers representing the two men said they would take their case to the court of the West African regional bloc ECOWAS, which has jurisdiction over human rights cases in member states.


"Our clients are being held in an arbitrary manner without any charges being presented. We have to denounce that," lawyer Dinah Sampil told a news conference.


A Guinean government committee set up to review the legality of mining licences is due, in the coming weeks, to report its findings on BSGR, which is in a partnership with Brazilian mining group Vale to develop the concession at the giant Simandou iron ore seam. U.S. authorities are also investigating the Simandou deal.


Earlier this month, FBI agents arrested BSGR representative Frederic Cilins in Florida, on charges of obstructing a criminal investigation, tampering with a witness and destruction of records.


Long-term instability in Guinea has deterred investment in its vast untapped reserves of gold, iron ore and diamonds.


President Alpha Conde's government has faced months of street protests by the opposition over the organisation of legislative elections, scheduled for June 30. U.N.-mediated talks are under way.


Guinea's Supreme Court overturned on Friday a ruling by the media regulator which had suspended an opposition-owned radio station, allowing it to return to the airwaves immediately. The regulator suspended Planete FM radio last week after a caller urged a revolt against President Alpha Conde. Planete FM, owned by opposition spokesman Aboubacar Sylla, cut the caller off and criticised his comments.


(Reporting by Saliou Samb; Writing by Daniel Flynn; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)


Write a comment

Comments: 0