December 19, 2016 / 8:35 AM / 9 months ago

Israeli police detain prominent businessman on suspicion of bribery

TEL AVIV (Reuters) - Israeli police detained a prominent Israeli businessman on Monday on suspicion of bribing public officials in Guinea, a country with vast mineral deposits and mining operations, to promote his business interests there.

A police spokesman would not identify the businessman, but said Israeli investigators had worked with law enforcement agencies in the United States, Switzerland and Guinea before detaining him.

Guinea’s former minister of mines, Mahmoud Thiam, was arrested in New York last week on charges he was involved in bribery payments linked to Guinea’s mining industry. [nL1N1E81GV]

The Israeli police said in a statement the businessman, along with other Israelis living abroad, were suspected of paying tens of millions of dollars to senior public officials in Guinea to advance their businesses.

Israeli media reported the businessman detained operates in Africa in mining and diamond and that suspicions against him were raised after a company he is connected with received control of a large mine in Guinea at almost no cost.

The company later sold rights to the mine to a large mining company in South America for billions of dollars.

Israeli police said the suspect, who at this stage has been detained for questioning, may appear in court later on Monday.

Reporting by Tova Cohen and Ari Rabinovitch; editing by Luke Baker

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