Israeli billionaire Beny Steinmetz, a well-known strategic adviser (and former banker) and three other businessmen were detained for questioning under caution on Monday over allegedly using fake contracts to move and launder money. The homes and offices of some of them were raided by law enforcement Monday morning, haaretz.com informs.
Technically the suspicions center on forgery, use of a forged document, money laundering, fraud, breach of trust, obstruction of justice and more. Steinmetz was arrested in December for his suspected role in a sprawling corruption case involving tens of millions of dollars.
The police suspect that the five detainees and central suspect systemically made use of contracts for nonexistent deals, including property deals in a foreign country, to move money around and launder ill-gotten gains. International law enforcement is involved in cracking the case, say Israeli sources.
In 2015, Romanian media reported that Steinmetz, former Yitzhak Rabin chief of staff Shimon Sheves and former adviser to Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert Tal Silberstein were suspected of being involved in illicit real estate deals that damaged the Romanian government more than USD160 million.
In December 2016, Steinmetz, 60, who controls vast mining operations in Africa, among other things, was sent to house arrest in Israel in the same case, involving his mining firm BSG Resources. The Israeli police alleged that he and other Israeli expatriate had paid tens of millions of dollars to officials in Guinea to advance their businesses. Steinmetz’s release to house arrest back then was conditional on his agreement to stay in Israel for 180 days and on a guarantee of 100 million shekels (USD26 million), the same source informs.
The Romanian connection
In Romania Beny Steinmetz is investigated in files related to the retrocession of some plots of land from the former royal Baneasa Farm and from Snagov Forest to Paul Philippe of Romania (aka Prince Paul of Romania), regarding the involvement of defendants Tal Silberstein, Beny Steinmetz, Moshe Agavi and others in the retrocession procedures or about the purchase agreements related to those plots of land.
Benyamin Steinmetz allegedly was the leader of a network for illegal retrocession and the one who paid the money to buy influence, the Romanian prosecutors say, digi24.ro informs.
In order to get support for the group’s interests, defendant Benyamin Steinmetz organised private parties in Israel or Monaco, inviting high ranking Romanian politicians, MPs and government members, consequently taking advantage of their names to prove his influence in relation with other people such as Prince Paul and public employees in charge with retrocession, the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) says.
The prosecutors further say that the political influence of Remus Truica and Tal Silberstein, former head of governments’ advisers, was the very reason for which the two were co-opted in the group. The Romanian businessman failed to meet his partners’ confidence.
“Remus Truica has, through intermediaries, acquired a part of the land returned and also acquired a share of the proceeds as loan to Reciplia SRL. Under these circumstances, Remus Truică was forced to cede his parts in Reciplia LTD, being excluded from the criminal group,” the indictment reads.
The Reciplia company focused the interests of everyone involved. Prince Paul of Romania sold 80% of the rights in dozens of properties, including the ones he regained – the Snagov Forest and the Baneasa Farm.
The court decided in late December 2016 to partially lift legal restrictions for several persons prosecuted in the Baneasa Farm illegal retrocession case. Among them, there is also Prince Paul of Romania, businessman Remus Truica, journalist Dan Andronic, Andrei Marcovici, Nela Păvăloiu, Niculae Dima. Remus Truica and Prince Paul of Romania are allowed to leave Romania without the prosecution body’s previous consent.
Businessman Truica Remus and Prince Paul of Romania were indicted on May 18, 2016 by the DNA prosecutors in the illegal restitution file.
Remus Truica is accused of influence peddling, money laundering, establishment of an organized criminal group, bribery and complicity to abuse of office.
Prince Paul of Romania is accused of influence buying, money laundering and complicity to abuse of office.