Press Release / Dec. 17, 2013

Global Witness to resist attempt to stifle public-interest reporting

Officials of the companies Beny Steinmetz Group Resources and Onyx Financial Advisers have filed a claim in the UK High Court against Global Witness under the Data Protection Act. The officials are using the Act to demand that Global Witness hand over information relating to them, gathered in the course of reporting on a major corruption scandal. Global Witness intends to robustly defend its position and regards the claim as an attempt to stifle journalism in the public interest.

Global Witness has been investigating and reporting for over a year on how BSGR obtained rights to one of the world’s largest iron ore deposits, the Simandou iron ore mine in Guinea. We have highlighted serious corruption concerns surrounding the deal, explaining in detail the reasons for our findings and asking questions of the companies concerned at every stage.

Global Witness has solid reasons for querying the Simandou deal, full details of which are laid out in the reports on our website.

Far from the fictional plot that BSGR has accused Global Witness of, BSGR is at the centre of a criminal investigation in the United States. A federal grand jury inquiry has been launched in New York into the company’s Simandou deal. One of its former advisers in Guinea, Frederic Cilins, is due to stand trial next year accused of attempting to destroy documents and obstruct the investigation.

A Guinean committee reviewing past mining contracts has also been looking into the Simandou deal. Its deadline for a response from BSGR fell on the same day that the company’s officials announced their claim against us.

Rather than seeking to bully those raising legitimate concerns, BSGR should address the corruption concerns directly. It has still not explained important aspects of its Simandou deal, including the  ownership of secretive companies registered in the British Virgin Islands.

BSGR’s statements on Global Witness are routinely inaccurate. The claim that we are part of a conspiracy is entirely unfounded. All our reports are written independently, with no interference from any of our funders. It also falsely claims that BSGR sought our help on behalf of two imprisoned BSGR employees.

All the material that Global Witness has published on BSGR’s Guinea deal can be found here


Daniel Balint-Kurti: [email protected], +44 (0) 7912 517 146