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Israeli diamond tycoon convicted

GENEVA (AP) — A Geneva court on Friday convicted Israeli diamond magnate Beny Steinmetz on charges of corrupting foreign public officials and forging documents, in a trial over his successful bid to reap lavish iron ore resources in the Guinea. The man considered by some to be Israeli’s richest man was sentenced to five years in prison, after facing a maximum of 10 years in the case. Steinmetz, who was on trial with two other defendants who received lesser penalties, was ordered to pay a 50-million-Swiss franc fine. His defense lawyer, Marc Bonnant, said he would “immediately” appeal the court ruling. The case centered on alleged payouts of millions to a former wife of late President Lansana Conte, and exposed the shady and complex world of deal-making and cutthroat competition in the lucrative mining business. Before the proceedings, Bonnant said his client had not given “a single dollar” to any official of the Guinea regime under Conte — but the court was not convinced by the top-drawer Geneva lawyer’s arguments.

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