Beny Steinmetz, Israeli-French mining tycoon, yesterday appeared in a Swiss court over corruption claims that he paid millions of dollars to Guinean officials for mining franchises, international news agencies reported.
Steinmetz, 64, travelled from Israel to Geneva to attend the trial which could last two weeks. He has repeatedly denied the claims, which refer to contracts dated back to 2008.
He appeared in the court along with his lawyer who said his client would "plead his innocence". If found guilty, Steinmetz faces up to ten years in prison.
Swiss prosecutors, according to the BBC, say Steinmetz paid about $10 million in bribes, in part through Swiss bank accounts, to gain the rights to Guinea's iron ore deposits in the Simandou mountains.
According to the Swiss prosecutor, Steinmetz forged documents and paid the bribes to Guinean public officials with the help of Mamadie Toure, the widow of Guinea's former President Lansana Conte.
Toure, who is currently in the US, is a witness in the trial and is due to attend tomorrow's hearing. If she does not appear in court, Steinmetz's lawyers said, the trial will be adjourned.