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French-Israeli tycoon Steinmetz released on bail after Cyprus arrest

French-Israeli diamond magnate Beny Steinmetz was released on bail Wednesday, nearly a week after being arrested in Cyprus on an international arrest warrant.

Steinmetz, who is sought by Romania over a 2020 fraud conviction, will appear back in court on September 14, police said, according to local media.

The mining mogul was detained upon arrival at the airport in Larnaca on August 31 on a European arrest warrant.

His spokesperson said authorities are examining Steinmetz’s claims that the arrest warrant is not valid due to shortcomings in the Romanian judicial process.

“Mr. Steinmetz stated that he welcomes the decision as he remains confident that the Justice of Cyprus will realize that the European Arrest Warrant should not have been executed, due to the significant flaws presented in the legal process followed in Romania,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

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Romania convicted Steinmetz in absentia for real estate fraud and in December 2020 sentenced him to five years in prison. An initial Interpol “red notice” to detain Steinmetz was ordered, but later canceled due to concerns that the trial against Steinmetz was “politically motivated,” his spokesman said earlier this week.

The European arrest warrant remains valid but was rejected by authorities in Italy and Greece “in view of the violation of his right to a fair trial — as well as the real risk of him being subjected to discriminatory, inhumane and humiliating treatment if he is extradited,” the spokesperson stated.

Israeli tycoon Beny Steinmetz seen at the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court, August 14, 2017. (Flash90)

Steinmetz has appealed his conviction at the European Court of Human Rights.

The Romanian affair concerns a real estate project Steinmetz was involved in during 2006-2008.

After the fall of the communist regime in Romania in 1989, the government allowed the restoration of private land to those who had lost it in the 1940s when the communists took over. Steinmetz was a partner and adviser to a body that held shares in a company that purchased the rights to land owned by a Romanian royal prince. That body was eventually accused of fraud.

Aside from the Romanian conviction, in 2021 Steinmetz was convicted of bribery in another corruption trial linked to mining rights in Guinea, and was sentenced to three years, of which half were to be served in prison.

An appeal against that conviction was rejected earlier this year. Steinmetz plans a further appeal against the conviction at the country’s highest court.

Steinmetz, who lives in Israel, will not serve any prison time until the appeals process has been exhausted.

Agencies contributed to this report.