Buried in the Simandou mountains in Guinea—one of the poorest countries on the planet—is likely the most valuable untapped seam of iron ore in the world. Extracting it will take billions of dollars of infrastructure investment for a new railway and a deep water port, but political instability means that any contract cannot be guaranteed from one fragile government to the next.
Despite these uncertainties, Simandou attracted one of the largest mining companies in the world, Rio Tinto. Part of the asset was later acquired by a smaller company, Beny Steinmetz Group Resources (BSGR). According to “Buried Secrets,” a feature New Yorker article by Century Foundation senior fellow Patrick Radden Keefe, BSGR is now being investigated for alleged transnational corruption and bribery, in a story that spans from Jacksonville and Conakry to New York, Paris, and a dinner party in Davos.
The story of Simandou spans over fifteen years, and includes allegations of secret deals, bribery, corruption, military coups, assassination attempts, international flight, and attempts at prosecution. To see how these events unfolded, check out our Buried Secrets Timeline, an interactive infographic.
To get the full story, read Keefe's article.
To understand how the international financial system has evolved to accommodate a wide array of illicit activities, such as those that allegedly surround the Simandou deal, check out Global Shell Seekers, a blog post by Century Foundation intern Victoria Beale.