Guinea frees two BSGR officials in mining corruption probe

CONAKRY (Reuters) - Guinea has released two officials of BSGR, the mining arm of Israeli billionaire Beny Steinmetz's business empire, after detaining them for seven months for alleged involvement in a corrupt mining deal.

Ibrahima Sory Toure, a vice president of BSGR in Guinea, and Issaga Bangoura, a security official, were released on bail on Friday evening, a government source and the company's lawyer in Conakry told Reuters.

"They spent the night with their respective families. They were freed on bail," BSGR's lawyer Momo Sakho said on Saturday.

Guinea alleges that BSGR bribed officials and Mamadie Toure, the wife of Guinea's former president, to win a licence in 2008 to develop the northern half of the vast Simandou iron ore deposit, one of the world's largest untapped reserves.

Ibrahima Sory Toure is Mamadie Toure's brother.

The government is currently carrying out a review of how the company obtained the mine and has called BSGR for a hearing on Dec 10.

BSGR's lawyer said the company will wait to see what steps the government takes next in the case involving its officials.

BSGR denies the corruption accusations and has criticised the government review, which it says is designed to allow Guinea to renege on its obligations.

In a separate probe linked to the same deal, U.S. authorities in January began investigating potential illegal payments made to obtain mining concessions in Guinea and transfers of those payments to the United States.

FBI agents arrested BSGR representative Frederic Cilins in Florida in April on charges of obstructing a criminal investigation, tampering with a witness and destruction of records.

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