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NYC Case Casts Light On West African Mining Fight

A recent New Yorker magazine article described a 2011 meeting between Conde and Steinmetz in which Steinmetz asked, "Why are you against us?" Conde responded, "I have no personal problem with you. But I have to defend the interests of Guinea."

Caught in the middle is Cilins, described in defense documents as an honest family man from Antibes who spends "a significant amount of time" at a Miami synagogue when in the United States.

Cilins, 50, "is a successful businessman, buying and selling goods and service, as well as acting as a middleman in commercial transactions in Europe, Africa and South America," the papers say.

BSGR has said that "lacking a permanent presence in Guinea," it brought in Cilins because of his "extensive business operations" there.

Cilins claims that after the mining rights were secured, BSGR became the victim of a plot by Mamadie Toure â¿¿ identified by U.S. authorities as the fourth wife of the deceased Guinea president â¿¿ to use forged contracts to extort the company.

His phone calls and meetings with Toure were meant "to obtain these false documents so that he and BSGR and others could no longer be blackmailed or extorted," according to the defense. His lawyers have also questioned whether Toure was ever married to the president and suggested the U.S. investigation was prompted by a meeting between Conde and President Barack Obama, calling the case "politically motivated."

Prosecutors paint a much different picture. Toure's story, they insist, is credible. Attempts by The Associated Press to contact Toure were unsuccessful.

Toure, who began working with the FBI in March in hopes of gaining immunity in the U.S. case, had told investigators that while her husband was in power, Cilins and others secretly promised millions of dollars to her and government officials if they helped BSGR win over the president, prosecutors say in court papers that identify her only as a cooperating witness.

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