UPDATE 1-Frenchman gets 2 years in U.S. prison for role in Guinea mine scandal
(Adds details of court hearing, background, case citation, byline)
By Joseph Ax
July 25 (Reuters) - A former adviser to mining giant BSG Resources was sentenced in New York federal court on Friday to two years in prison for obstructing a criminal probe in connection with a bribery investigation in Guinea.
Frederic Cilins, a French national, pleaded guilty in March to one count of obstruction and admitted attempting to bribe Mamadie Toure, a widow of former Guinea President Lansana Conte, so she would leave the United States to avoid questioning by federal authorities.
Cilins was charged as part of a U.S. probe into potentially illegal payments made to Guinean officials to secure rights to half of one of the world's largest untapped iron ore deposits for BSG Resources (BSGR), the mining arm of Israeli billionaire Beny Steinmetz's conglomerate.
BSGR has denied any wrongdoing.
The investigation eventually prompted Guinean officials to strip the concessions from BSGR and its partner, Brazilian iron ore mining company Vale SA, after a government-appointed committee accused BSGR of obtaining them through corrupt means.
BSGR has accused officials of improperly trying to wrest away its rights to the northern half of the Simandou mine. The company is seeking arbitration at the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes.
Developing Simandou would offer an enormous boost to the Guinean economy, but the project has suffered delays because of disputes over the mining rights. Continuación...