Swiss daily "Le Temps" reports that Beny Steinmetz has sold his stake in the family business Steinmetz Diamond Group (SDG) to his brother, Daniel.
Steinmetz sold the business because of legal investigations into his mining operations in Guinea through BSG Resources, which is owned by a Lichtenstein foundation in which he is the beneficiary. The federal tribunal for criminal affairs alleges that BSRG employees are involved in a corruption scheme.
"The events in Guinea have unjustly damaged Steinmetz's reputation," says his lawyer, Marc Bonnant. "It is liable to harm his diamond business. The banks are constantly wondering about the connection to Steinmetz's fortune. He does not want problems with the banks or their hesitations to be an obstacle to SDG's business."
According to "Le Temps", Bonnant says that Beny Steinmetz sold 37.5% of SDG to his brother Daniel, who now owns 75% of the company. A third partner, Nir Livnat owns the other 25%. He adds that the price of the sale was not disclosed, but was based on the net asset value (NAV), which is "not negligible."
"Le Temps" says, "This description could be an understatement, given that SDG, which the company website says is headquartered in Geneva, has had an impressive turnover since the 1980s."
The newspaper quotes an anonymous diamond industry expert as saying, "Beny Steinmetz always had access to exceptional stones thanks to its relationship with De Beers, the South African diamond giant. Every year, Steinmetz buys 1-2 billion diamonds, which positions it as one of De Beers' most important clients."
Beny Steinmetz's spokesman said in response, "The foreign article is inaccurate. As part of routine business, holdings in the diamond polishing and cutting company were sold. The holding amounted to 37.5%. The company continues to operate in the mining, distribution, and commercial sectors, with potential growth and very high profit margins. There is no connection, either direct or indirect, beween the business and the struggle over BSGR's rights in Guinea."
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on March 30, 2014
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