Friday, 11 April 2014

Guinean corruption inquiry moves to strip diamond billionaire of his “deal of the century”

9th April 2014
A government committee in Guinea today recommended stripping diamond billionaire Beny Steinmetz of one of the world’s biggest iron ore concessions on evidence his company bribed the president’s wife.
In a new report on what has been dubbed “the deal of the century”, Global Witness examines the evidence on which the mining committee based its recommendation, including transcripts of FBI recordings and contracts underpinning the corruption. The key documents were published by the committee today, along with its findings on the deal.
For the full report click here.
Global Witness’s report also looks at other new evidence, including a corrupt contract with one of the former president’s relatives and testimony that Beny Steinmetz Group Resources pressured the Guinean media into hiding the involvement of the president’s wife in the deal. She told the committee that a top BSGR official bribed her with cars, jewellery and a bag containing a $1 million. Criminal investigations into BSGR’s Guinea deal are underway on three continents, including in the United States.
“The committee’s extraordinary evidence builds on the revelations about BSGR’s Simandou deal that we have been publishing since late 2012,” said Daniel Balint-Kurti of Global Witness. “It is rare that the mechanics of corrupt deals are laid bare so clearly, showing how opaque mining deals can short-change the world’s poorest nations.”
BSGR says it “acquired its exploration and mining rights in Guinea after a fully transparent and legal process ” and claimed the huge project would “contribute to increased stability and peace” in the region. It says that the evidence released by the committee was “fabricated” and that the whole process is an illegal attempt to seize its assets.
The contracts released by the mining committee show how BSGR and an affiliated offshore company promised millions of dollars in bribes to Mamadie Touré, one of then-President Lansana Conté’s four wives, in exchange for help in obtaining the concessions, at a time when they were already held by one of the world’s biggest miners, Rio Tinto.
The Guinean government then took the rights back from Rio Tinto in 2008 and handed them to BSGR for nothing (although the company says it later invested $160 million). BSGR booked a phenomenal profit by selling half the rights on to another major mining company, Brazil’s Vale, for $2.5 billion – equivalent to twice the Guinean national budget.
After Guinean government-appointed investigators learnt of the corrupt contracts, BSGR adviser Frederic Cilins repeatedly travelled to Florida last year to meet Touré, who had moved there after the death of her husband. The transcripts of the FBI’s recordings of their conversations – linked to a wider US criminal inquiry into the Simandou deal - show that Cilins offered Touré $1 million to destroy the contracts, claiming that he was acting under instructions from Beny Steinmetz himself.
Cilins has pleaded guilty in the US to obstructing a federal investigation, for which he could be jailed for up to 47 months. He could still be charged with other offences as the US inquiry into the Simandou deal continues.
Global Witness’s reports on BSGR in Guinea can be found here, including our August report that showed how BSGR was intimately connectedwith the British Virgin Islands company, Pentler, that signed several of the corrupt contracts.
For the full report click here.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

The EU is heading in a direction Britain never signed up to.
That's why the European Elections on May 22nd are so important. They're your chance to vote for real change in Europe.
As Prime Minister, I've stood up for Britain's interests - securing a cut in the EU budget to protect British taxpayers, and vetoing a new EU Fiscal Treaty that didn't guarantee a level playing field for British businesses.
But we need to go further. I will renegotiate our relationship with the EU, bringing power back to Britain and away from Brussels:
  1. Keeping our border controls and cracking down on benefit tourism
  2. Securing more trade but not an 'ever closer union'
  3. Taking back control of justice and home affairs
  4. Getting a better deal for British taxpayers
Then I'll give you the final decision on our membership of the EU with an in-out referendum by the end of 2017.
Labour and the Lib Dems won't stand up for Britain, while UKIP simply can't deliver on anything they promise.
YES - I'd like to volunteer
NO - but I'd like to donate
David Cameron signature
David Cameron

Ayoub  mzee with  the  Guyana  High  commissioner

New non AU Member State Permanent Representatives to the African Union present letters of Credence to the AU Chairperson

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 9 April, 2014: Five new Ambassadors to the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and Permanent Representatives to the African Union presented their letters of credence to the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, H.E. Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, at the AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Wednesday 9 April 2014.

The five representatives, whose countries are not member states of the African Union, in order of presentation are: Qatar: H.H. Mr. Abdulaziz Al-Rumaihi; Sri Lanka:H.E. Dr. Kana V Kananathan; Uruguay: H.E. Agustin Espinosa-Lioveras; Serbia:      H.E. Mr. Dragan Mraovic; Italy: H.E. Mr, Giuseppe Mistretta;

The Permanent Representatives each discussed with Dr. Dlamini Zuma the various areas of cooperation they envisage embarking on to strengthen the relationship with the African Union.

Some of the areas of cooperation include economic development, investment, agriculture and agro-processing, peace and security, tourism, mining and migration.

Following discussions the Chairperson of the AU Commission congratulated each Permanent Representative on their appointment, and pledged her availability and support during their tour of duty.

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