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BEWARE OF Beny Steinmetz -at centre of investigation over $2.5B Guinea mining deal. An international investigation into a mining conglomerate controlled by secretive Israeli billionaire Beny Steinmetz and a deal involving a mountain of iron worth $10 billion in the impoverished African state of Guinea, has spread in recent days to Britain, France and Switzerland.

Swiss police last week raided the Geneva offices of a company linked to Steinmetz following a request by the U.S. Justice Department and Guinea's government regarding allegations of bribery involving the widow of Guinea's late dictator, Lansana Conte.

The former army general ruled the former French colony for 24 years until his death in 2008.

The West African state has abundant deposits of iron ore, bauxite, diamonds, gold and aluminum ore, but its 11 million people live in squalor, without clean water, electricity, schools or infrastructure.

Some estimates suggest the Simandou ore could generate around $140 billion over 25 years, more than doubling Guinea's gross domestic product.

Also last week, French police raided the home of a director of Beny Steinmetz Group Resources, the mining arm of the tycoon's business empire, registered in the British-ruled Channel Islands, an offshore tax haven.

Scotland Yard's Serious Fraud Squad and the Financial Investigation Unit in Guernsey, one of the Channel Islands that lie off France, began an investigation Wednesday into how Steinmetz acquired rights to extract half the ore in Simandou Mountain in remote southeastern Guinea.

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