Diamond magnate Beny Steinmetz’s arrest in Israel on Monday along with four others, is in connection with a Romanian real estate deal, according to a police statement quoted in the media.
Romanian anti-corruption authorities indicted Steinmetz and 13 others in March 2016 for complicity in money laundering, peddling influence and forming an organised crime group.
Steinmetz is accused of having financed a criminal group, co-ordinated in Romania by his long-time associate Remus Truica, the chief of staff to former Romanian Prime Minister Adrian Nastase, who has been sentenced to prison for corruption.
The criminal group is charged with seeking to acquire a large property claimed by 67-year-old Paul Lambrino, the nephew of the last king of Romania. The prosecution claims that Steinmetz paid $4.7 million to acquire the former royal property through a shell company set up by Mossack Fonseca, the firm at the heart of the Panama Papers exposé. The shell company became the legal owner of two acquired properties — the former royal farm and a nearby forest — for Steinmetz’s local partners.
Wiretaps presented in court reportedly revealed that Steinmetz was orchestrating the deals. The case is that the two land deals cost the state $170 million in damages.
Leaked Mossack Fonseca documents from the Panama Papers indicate that Steinmetz set up another offshore company which owns 20 hectares near Bucharest.