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25 May 20222 minute read

DLA Piper secures victory for the Republic of Guinea in multi-billion euro dispute with BSGR

DLA Piper has obtained a significant win for the Republic of Guinea in its multi-billion euro investment arbitration against BSGR. The arbitration concerned development rights over the world’s largest iron deposit, Simandou.

In a landmark award issued on 18 May 2022, the ICSID tribunal rejected BSGR's claims in their entirety. BSGR, whose ultimate beneficiary is Israeli diamond billionaire Beny Steinmetz, had argued that the State had expropriated its mining rights in Simandou and the adjacent Zogota deposit. The tribunal fully adopted the Republic of Guinea's position that BSGR had acquired its rights through an extensive bribery scheme implemented primarily between 2006 and 2010. The tribunal was convinced by the overwhelming evidence gathered by the Republic of Guinea, including contracts of corruption, evidence of payments of millions of dollars to various intermediaries, as well as audio and video recordings of key individuals, all taking place over several continents.

Prior to the arbitration, DLA Piper led the investigation into BSGR’s acquisition of its contested rights. The investigation involved unprecedented cooperation between Guinean, Swiss, American, Israeli and other criminal authorities.

The DLA Piper team was led by Global Co-Chair of International Arbitration, Michael Ostrove, and supported by partner Théobald Naud, Senior Consultant Scott Horton and Senior Associate Clémentine Emery. Former associates Sârra-Tilila Bounfour and Andrea Lapunzina were also key team members.

Michael Ostrove said:

“This award is a major victory not only for the Republic of Guinea but for all of Africa. It proves that a determined State can prevail against powerful multinational businesses in the fight against corruption. The successful outcome also demonstrates once again DLA Piper’s strength in dealing with complex international arbitration matters along with its deep understanding of and commitment to the African market. We could accomplish this result only because of our ability to work closely with devoted colleagues in Guinea, our international arbitration colleagues around the world and the assistance provided to the State by the African Legal Support Facility. We are delighted that the State achieved such a resounding result.”