ST PETER PORT, Guernsey, April 19, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --
Beny Steinmetz, the businessman and philanthropist, has taken action against an NGO funded by George Soros following its refusal to comply with UK data protection rules designed to protect the rights of the individual.
The action against Global Witness should be viewed in the context of a forthcoming case brought at the High Court in London against FTI Consulting LLP ("FTI"), a former professional adviser to companies linked to the Steinmetz family, and Lord Malloch-Brown, FTI's Chairman for Europe, Middle East and Africa ("EMEA"). On November 27, 2012 Mr Steinmetz requested FTI, Global Witness and other entities to disclose personal data held on him, disclosures which are required under the UK Data Protection Act 1998. FTI complied but Global Witness refused to provide data, citing "journalistic privilege".
The disclosures from FTI showed that Lord Malloch-Brown disclosed purported information about Mr Steinmetz and companies associated with him to Mr Soros and entities associated with him. Mr Steinmetz believes, based on the disclosures from FTI that Global Witness holds disclosable information about him. Mr Steinmetz has lodged a complaint to the UK Information Commissioner against Global Witness.
Mr Steinmetz believes that leaks from FTI at a time when it was advising Steinmetz-related companies, helped Mr Soros in his campaign against Steinmetz business interests. Mr Steinmetz and his family are among the beneficiaries of a trust which owns BSG Resources (BSGR), an international mining and minerals company with 6,000 employees and operations in 12 countries. BSGR has an interest in a substantial iron ore deposit at Simandou in Guinea which it owns jointly with the Government of Guinea and Vale, a Brazilian-owned international mining company.
The High Court claim by BSGR and Mr Steinmetz states that its investigation showed that Mr Soros and NGOs associated with him were parties in a smear campaign against BSGR.
A spokesman for BSGR said: "It is incredible that Global Witness, which described itself as a human rights organisation, refuses to provide Mr Steinmetz with personal information it holds on him. Is Global Witness above the law?"
"Global Witness says in its mission statement that its purpose is to campaign against natural resource related conflict and corruption and associated environmental and human rights abuses. This is a laudable purpose, and one that Mr Steinmetz entirely respects. However, it is unacceptable for this charitable body to allow the use of its position and influence, and the investigative talents of its dedicated staff, in support of the campaigns of its founding benefactor. Mr Steinmetz has taken this action in part to ensure that Global Witness complies with the high standards that the general public and its ordinary donors expect."
Mr Steinmetz considers Global Witness' assertion that it is a journalistic enterprise to be spurious and is confident the Information Commissioner will uphold his rights and compel Global Witness to disclose his information.
About Beny Steinmetz
Beny Steinmetz, aged 57, is a Swiss resident with dual Israel-French nationality. He started his career in the family diamond business. Steinmetz Diamonds provides rough and polished diamonds to customers around the world and has manufacturing facilities in Botswana, South Africa, Namibia and New York. The Steinmetz family interests have extended into mining, oil, gas, power generation, real estate and financial investments. Beny and his immediate family are among the beneficiaries of trusts which own the Steinmetz business group (BSG).
Beny Steinmetz is the Chairman of the Agnes & Beny Steinmetz Foundation which specialises in and supports education and welfare, particularly in early years, in Israel and internationally. It has contributed to reducing poverty and supporting education and inclusion through the development of schools, sports facilities and environmental uplift programs for local communities. The Foundation also supports art and artists and Beny is on the Board of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. Beny holds an honorary degree of Dr Honoris Causa from the Netanya Academic College.
BSG is a privately owned holding company with interests across the globe in natural resources, real estate, capital markets and the diamond industry.
BSGR, BSG's natural resources company, is an international diversified mining company with operations in twelve countries across metals and mining operations in Africa and Eastern Europe, including ferro-nickel, diamonds, copper, iron ore and gold. The group is also active in the production/exploration of oil and gas and engineering, and in power generation in Nigeria. BSGR has a fifteen-year track record of providing risk capital for developing and executing mining operations in challenging environments. BSGR employs more than six thousand people and has created value and prosperity for its African stakeholders in South Africa, Botswana, Tanzania, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Guinea.
In all of these countries BSGR has operated in a fully transparent manner, working hand in hand with host governments at both the national and local level. BSGR takes pride in its ability to forge strong relationships with local communities and stakeholders in areas benefiting from its operations.
About BSGR's interests in Guinea
In December 2008, following a three-year exploration programme in which BSGR invested over $165 million, the Group concluded a Basic Agreement with the Republic of Guinea which provided the framework to the development of a world-class integrated mining project at Zogota and Simandou Blocks 1 and 2. In April 2010, in order to bring in a world-class partner who could support bringing the assets into production, BSGR approved a strategic sale of 51% to Vale, forming a Joint Venture known as VBG.
Despite many years of political instability, including the ongoing and unexplained delays to legislative elections, and continued changes to the Guinean Mining Code and fiscal regime, VBG has made considerable progress at Zogota and Simandou Blocks 1 and 2. Over $600 million has already been invested by VBG in Guinea and, in accordance with agreed timetables, the feasibility study for Blocks 1 and 2 were submitted in September 2011 with commercial production due to begin at Zogota by end 2012.
Progress has been halted because the Guinean government stopped its engagement with VBG claiming that it has no agreements with Vale and refusing to recognise the official sale of rights to Vale and the name change to VBG. This is despite all licenses and titles being duly legalised with the Guinean Register of Commerce and formally notified to the Guinean Minister of Mines and Director of Centre for Promotion and Development; duly acknowledged and with letters sent to VBG under its new name. Furthermore, many members of the current Government of Guinea, including the current Minister of Mines who served as the Prime Ministerial advisor on mining issues through the award of licenses to BSGR, have publically approved the VBG Joint Venture.
BSGR is confident that allegations of fraud in obtaining its mining rights in Guinea are entirely baseless, and that its position in Guinea will be fully vindicated.
Media Enquiries re. BSGR
Rory Godson / Ian Middleton / Conal Walsh
SOURCE BSG Resources