One year after billionaire Beny Steinmetz was first barred from traveling abroad, Israel Police again asked the court to extend the conditions for his release. Steinmetz is suspected of money-laundering, tax violations, and bribing the former president of Guinea. This time, the police requested a one-month extension.
"There has been a very recent dramatic development, with potential involvement of many more people," Police Superintendent Ariel Friedman told the court while making the request. "We have no control over his foreign trips. The suspect has his own private airplane and we have no hookup to terminals in European countries."
Steinmetz did not attend the Rishon Lezion Magistrates Court hearing, after Judge Amit Michles excused him without giving the police a chance to respond in the matter.
After the police representative again gave the judge information that no one else was allowed to hear, Steinmetz's lawyers, Advocates Natan Simchony and Ronen Rosenbloom, argued that the new request for a new period was predictable and did not include any concern about disruption of the investigation. "New circumstances are required in order to extend the conditions," Simchony said, to which the judge answered, "There are new circumstances; there have been new matters since then."
The one-month extension of the restrictive conditions on Steinmetz is designed to complete the period originally requested over a month ago - extension of the restrictions by two and a half months, in view of a secret document submitted by the police describing alleged disruption of the investigation by Steinmetz recently discovered by police. To this is added a very recent "dramatic development" reported by the police today.
The police request was partially granted (one month), after the judge was persuaded that there was concern about obstruction of justice by Steinmetz, whose many overseas business affairs require him to travel abroad frequently.
At the end of the hearing, despite the police's uncompromising stance at the beginning of the hearing, the parties reached agreement on some of the countries involved. The judge accepted the request for a 30-day restriction with a distinction between the countries. The passage of time, the additional developments and directions in the investigation, combined with the fact that Steinmetz is a businessman who conducts most of his business abroad, led the judge to allow Steinmetz to travel to Spain, Greece, Germany, the Czech Republic, Belgium, and the Netherlands - countries to which the parties could not agree on whether Steinmetz would be allowed to travel.
The conditions under which Steinmetz will be permitted to fly to these countries, and to other countries that are in neither Europe nor Africa, to which Steinmetz is completely barred from traveling, are the use of a commercial flight, instead of his private plane, with a police-approved escort who will sign a NIS 3 million third-party guarantee; notifying the police 24 hours in advance of his dates of leaving and returning, the purpose and destination of the trip, and the parties with whom he is meeting; and depositing his passport as soon as he returns.
Published by Globes [online], Israel Business News - www.globes-online.com - on November 15, 2017
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