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Israeli Billionaire Jailed 5 Years in Guinea Bribery Scandal

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A court in Switzerland has sentenced the billionaire Israeli businessman, Beny Steinmetz, to five years in prison for bribery in relation to acquiring mining rights to lucrative iron-ore deposits in Guinea.

Some of the money was said to have been transferred through Swiss banks.

A Swiss criminal court on Friday found billionaire Israeli businessman Beny Steinmetz guilty of corruption and also ordered him to pay 50 million Swiss francs ($56.48 million) fine.

The judgment is a landmark verdict in one of the mining world’s most high-profile legal disputes.

Delivering judgment, the judge, Alexandra Banna, said, “It is clear from what has been presented that the rights were obtained through corruption and that Steinmetz cooperated with others to obtain them.’’

The court, she said, had therefore sentenced him “to a deprivation of liberty for five years”, in line with the prosecutors’ request.

The court also convicted and sentenced Steinmetz’s co-defendants, a French man and a Belgian woman.

They were also found guilty of corruption and were given a 3-1/2 year jail sentence each and a two-year suspended sentence, respectively.

The judgment followed a two-week trial of Steinmetz and his co-defendants variously accused of bribery and corruption.

The convicts were accused of conspiring and paying or arranging payment of $10 million in bribes.

The bribes were aimed at influencing officials so as to obtain exploration permits for the world’s richest untapped deposits of iron ore in Guinea.

They were also accused of forging documents to cover it up through a web of shell companies and bank accounts.

They had denied all the charges before the court.

Central to Steinmetz’s defence was his claim that he was not involved in the day-to-day running of Beny Steinmetz Group Resources (BSGR).

He described himself as the owner and company ambassador but not the boss of the group that employs some 100,000 members of staff.

Steinmetz said he would appeal the judgment.

“It is a big injustice,” he told reporters outside the Geneva courthouse.

The battle for control of the iron ore, buried in the remote Simandou mountain range of West Africa’s Guinea, has triggered probes and litigation around the world.

This has also thwarted efforts to extract the lucrative commodity.

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Nigeria Buries Air Force Personnel Killed In Plane Crash

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Thursday, February 25th, was an emotional day for Nigeria as it buried its Air Force personnel who died in an air mishap last week.

The crash occured after the airmen left Abuja on an intelligence mission, enroute Minna as part of plans to rescue the abducted Kagara boys at the time. All seven men on board were killed.

Those who died in the crash were named as: Haruna Gadzama (Pilot); Henry Piyo (Co-pilot); Michael Okpara (Airborne Tactical Observation System Specialist) and Bassey Etim (ATOS Specialist).

Others were Olasunkanmi Olawunmi (ATOS specialist), Ugochukwu Oluka (ATOS specialist) and Adewale Johnson (Onboard Technician).

The deceased were buried on Thursday at the National Military Cemetery, Lugbe in Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory.

Minister of Defence, Bashir Magashi, Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi and Nigeria’s service chiefs were all present at the burial ceremony as they paid their last respects.

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All Eyes on Ghana as African Gold Rises Like the Phoenix

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Ghana has become the toast of exploration firms in the continent and is now Africa’s largest gold producer. It churned out 80.5 tonnes in 2008. To prove her worthiness of the title, Ghana has 23 large-scale mining companies producing gold, diamonds, bauxite and manganese.

There are over 300 registered small scale mining groups and 90 mine support service companies. So, apart from earning revenue for Ghana directly, it also ensures many people earn a stable living along the value chain.

Gold production in becoming an important export earner in West Africa.

This is true for countries like Ghana, Burkina Faso and Mali as these nations are expected to increase their export quota by 2.7% in 2021 to 8 Moz (million ounces) and grow to 8.4 Moz (million ounces) by 2024 – a 1.6% compound annual growth rate (CAGR).

After strong growth in 2019, West Africa’s gold production was badly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, owing to the temporary suspension of mines such as Fekola in Mali.

The pandemic had a significant impact on African operations, mainly during the early part of the second quarter of 2020, when, at one point, the region’s gold mines were on hold with no production due to COVID-19 lockdowns according to Global Data, a leading data and analytics company.

And Ghana is expected to lead the growth, where the production is expected to reach 3.9moz (million ounces) in 2024 from a forecasted 3.6 Moz in 2021. West Africa’s second largest economy is looking more money in her coffers in 2021.

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Africa’s Largest University Hospital Opens in Tangier

Africa’s largest university hospital, Tangier University Hospital with a capacity of 865 beds has opened in Morocco’s coastal city, Tangier.

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Africa’s largest university hospital, Tanger University Hospital – a 71,000 sqm healthcare facility with 865 beds capacity is now open in Morocco’s coastal city, Tangier.

The hospital, built by Morocco’s Health Ministry – Ministere de la Sante’ (MDS) at a cost of $130 million will help ease pressure on the northern regions’ hospitals.

Tangier is Morocco’s second-largest industrial hub, strategic port, and trade centre with a burgeoning population due to large-scale investments in industry, services, and transport.

The edifice shows two prominent semi-circular volumes linked by glazed pedestrian links and surrounded by planted green courts. Its facade features angled sun-shading fins and peculiar aesthetics that make the building respond to its climatic context.

The port is the largest on the Mediterranean and in Africa by capacity. connecting over 170 ports in 77 countries.

This is outstanding especially for Tangier, which has been one of the worst-hit Moroccan cities by the COVID-19 pandemic.  The 865-bed university hospital covers 4 floors, and comprises 15 surgical rooms and a unit for victims of fire accidents.

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