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August 21, 2019

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Lawyer for Israeli diamond magnate denies corruption claims

Updated Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2019 | 3:43 p.m.

GENEVA (AP) — A lawyer for an Israeli diamond magnate facing charges in Switzerland of corruption and forging documents says his client didn't send "a single dollar" to "anybody" in Guinea linked to that nation's late former President Lansana Conte, rejecting allegations by a Geneva prosecutor.

Tycoon Beny Steinmetz and two other defendants have been ordered to stand trial in connection with $10 million in bribes allegedly paid to a former wife of Conte. The payouts were allegedly part of a plot by Steinmetz's BSGR Group to squeeze out a competitor for mining rights in Guinea's southeastern Simandou region in 2005-2010.

Lawyer Marc Bonnant said Wednesday that Steinmetz "denies any wrongdoing" and will appear for the trial, which isn't expected for months.

If convicted, Steinmetz could face two to 10 years in prison.