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April 21, 2024
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Israeli Billionaire Beny Steinmetz Arrested in Cyprus on a Romanian-issued Warrant

Israeli businessman Beny Steinmetz was arrested in Cyprus based on a warrant issued by Romania, where he had been convicted in absentia to five years in jail in a 2020 case for property fraud.

Steinmetz was detained on Thursday “during his arrival at the Larnaca airport, due to a European Arrest Warrant (EAW) issued by the Romanian authorities, which has already been cancelled in various European countries, among them in Greece and Italy,” his spokesman confirmed, cited by Haaretz.

The arrest comes nearly three years after a Romanian court sentenced Steinmetz and political adviser Tal Silberstein in absentia to five years in jail each in an organized crime case. According to prosecutors, the two, together with a Romanian businessman and scion of the ex-Romanian royal family, sought to take assets out of the country fraudulently.

Steinmetz was also detained in Greece and Italy, but both countries refused the extradition, fearing that he would not receive a fair trial in Romania.

The spokesman for Steinmetz said the Interpol had cancelled its red notice, thereby rescinding the international arrest warrant issued by the Romanians, due to human rights violations, including a violation of Steinmetz’s fundamental right to a fair trial in Romania.

Mr. Steinmetz welcomes the opportunity to be acquitted in another European country in the proceedings against Romania, notorious for lacking respect for human rights. Steinmetz is confident that justice will prevail in Cyprus as well and will confirm that the strong foundations of the European Union’s moral and legal system will prevail against undemocratic practices like those of the Romanian authorities.

Beny Steinmetz spokesman

Steinmetz was the wealthiest person in Israel, with a fortune once estimated by Bloomberg at USD 8 billion. Still, his fortune declined as his name appeared in Romania, Switzerland and other countries concerning corruption cases.

Even so, whether the Israeli tycoon will be extradited to Romania is uncertain, as so far, multiple European and third-party countries have denied extradition following court decisions.

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