Namibia's Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has dropped an investigation into whether a new government independent sales company called Namib Desert Diamonds (Namdia) deliberately sold Namibian diamonds cheaply to Dubai-based firms, writes The Namibian, which first broke the story back in November 2016. The Namibian previously raised concerns that Namdia, tasked to sell stones worth over US$150 million (N$2.1 billion) per year as stipulated by a
"No, this is not a joke - I wish it were." So begins Chaim Even-Zohar's latest Diamond Intelligence Briefing, which uncovers a bizarre oversight involving the U.S. Kimberley Process Authority (USKPA): it does not officially exist at all. Rather, USKPA's Director and General Counsel Cecelia Gardner told Zohar the organization has been operating under a DBA ("doing business as") name, while the full name is "U.S. Kimberley Process Authority Institute" (USKPAI) ... but this as well has ceased to exist.
Rockwell Diamonds may have set an all-time record for the length of a press release title - "Rockwell’s third quarter results impacted by malicious litigation, however the strategic repositioning programme makes progress as new leadership is appointed and non-core assets along with related liabilities rationalized" - but this might be an intentional ploy to discourage readers from reading any further.
Israeli billionaire businessman Beny Steinmetz was released from house arrest Wednesday after he was detained last month on suspicion of money laundering and bribing public officials in Africa, writes The Times of Israel. The diamond and mining magnate was arrested on December 19 and accused of paying millions of dollars in bribes in the Republic of Guinea in exchange for advancing his business interests in the country, according to the Israel Police.
Israeli authorities have placed Israeli diamond and mining mogul Beny Steinmetz under house arrest over allegations of bribery and corruption in Guinea linked to his BSG Resources (BGSR) mining company. One of Israel’s wealthiest men, Steinmetz has been arrested in Israel over claims that he paid millions of dollars in bribes to secure mineral assets in one of the world’s poorest nations.
Diversified mining giant Rio Tinto will “robustly” defend itself against any legal action by BSG Resources (BSGR) - owned by the notorious Israeli mining figure Beny Steinmetz - which is reportedly planning to sue the company over its alleged contribution to the loss of BSG’s mining rights for the Simandou iron-ore project in Guinea, writes Mining Weekly. BSG is reportedly seeking billions of dollars in damages.
A Canadian environmental group is taking diamond giant De Beers to court over their alleged failure to provide a full report on the mercury levels at their Victor diamond mine in Northern Ontario. Since mining could trigger mercury pollution, Ontario’s government requires De Beers to self-monitor and report on the mercury levels found in creeks near the mine.
Zimbabwe has produced only 924,000 carats of diamonds this year from its Marange fields, or just a third of the 3.2 million carats produced over the same period last year, as court cases filed by miners against a government decision to expropriate their claims drag on.
Lucara Diamond has issued a press release announcing that it has indeed terminated its contract with Eqstra Botswana to provide mining related services at its Karowe Mine. However, "Contrary to recent media reports in Botswana, the Company is unaware of any fraud or illegal activities, of its current or former employees, in relation to the mining contract. While the performance of Eqstra under the contract remains a subject of discussion between the parties, an orderly transition to a new mining contractor is underway.
In response to Walmart selling their $18,000 Diamond Watch on walmart.com, Cartier issued a statement clarifying that Walmart is not authorized to sell its products. Walmart has more than tripled its online offering of products over the past year, and made headlines last week when the Wall Street Journal reported that a third-party vendor, New York-based Jewelry Unlimited, was selling a $18,000 diamond watch by Cartier on walmart.com on Black Friday. Cartier took aim at Walmart on Monday, saying it could not vouch for the authenticity of the watches sold via walmart.com.
According to a report on the Israeli news site Hamodia, the country's tax authorities, following Israels commitments to the US and international organizations to apply a more stringent anti-money laundering policy, are targeting the Israeli diamond industry, generally considered the biggest offenders in this domain. Officials said that as of January 1st, the administration will go after tax fraud more agressively, implementing extended powers of investigation and enforcement.
The United States Supreme Court became the seventh separate court to agree with PJSC LUKOIL (Grib Diamonds is a 100% owned subsidiary of LUKOIL) that Archangel Diamond Corporation (ADC) Liquidation Trust’s case against LUKOIL could not be pursued in the United States. By this decision the Supreme Court has put an end to ADC’s pursuit of any further litigation in the United States. The verdict of November 7, 2016 is final and non-appealable. The case was initially filed in November 2001 in Colorado State Court.
An Italian regulator is investigating the sale of diamonds through bank branches across the country after a TV report alleged the stones were missold to the public, writes Reuters. Several Italian banks distribute diamonds for diamond brokers, an unusual partnership that generated around 300 million euros ($332.88 million) in sales for the brokers last year. State channel Rai3 said in October that several banks sold diamonds as financial products in bank branches at twice the market price.
In his latest Diamond Intelligence Briefing, "A Fraud in Progress... A Criminal Conspiracy to Default Hits Indian Exporters", industry insider Chaim Even-Zohar unravels a massive case of fraud perpetrated by a rogue diamond broker and US-based buyers against Indian diamond suppliers, currently estimated at $35-50 million.
Diamond smuggling in China, an issue that has received significant press in recent years, is not going away.
Earlier this week, Michelle Graff of National Jeweler reported that Tiffany's had been awarded $5.5 million in their legal dispute with Costco. A New York jury has now ruled that wholesale merchandiser Costco must pay them an additional $8.25 million, potentially bringing the total to $13.75 million pending the judges verdict.
A New York security guard who took $5 million in diamonds accidentally thrown on a pile of garbage by construction workers outside a jewelry store will avoid jail time by agreeing to a plea. Wilfred Martinez, 48, pleaded guilty to grand larceny in Manhattan Supreme Court in exchange for six months probation, the New York Post reported.
Diamond and jewelry tycoon Lev Leviev has won more than $100 million from an arbitration panel in battle against his former business partner, the Julius Klein Group, The New York Post and other sources report. Lawyers for losing side tried but failed to have the court documents sealed in the Manhattan federal court case. But Judge Andrew L. Carter Jr. agreed only to redact the amount of the award, which the Post cited industry sources as saying was “well north of $100 million.”
Three Texas men are awaiting trial after allegedly tricking 77 investors out of $6.5 million in a diamond investment fraud scheme, according to the U.S. Justice Department. The men have all been charged with wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, while two are also accused of mail fraud, according to the Dallas Morning News. They could face 20 years in federal prison if convicted.
The Jewelers Vigilance Committee (JVC) has appointed Miya Owens as its Assistant Counsel, replacing Sara Yood who was recently promoted to be the JVC's Senior Counsel. Owens has extensive experience in anti-money laundering and regulatory compliance counseling as well as a mediator. Owen will support the work of JVC legal department. She will primarily be engaged in mediation work, to assist resolving the nearly 300 cases JVC undertakes each year. She will also perform legal research and answer member questions relating to their compliance obligations.
The Board of Directors of the Jewelers Vigilance Committee has created a search committee to identify and hire a President, CEO & General Counsel to replace Cecilia Gardner, who is stepping down from the position in 2017. Steven Kaiser, Chairman of the Board of Directors of JVC, said: “We are grateful for Cecilia’s 18 years of service to the JVC and her unwavering dedication to ethics and legal compliance in the jewelry industry.
A special operations unit from the Catalan police in Barcelona arrested five alleged members of the so-called "Pink Panther" gang of jewel thieves on Friday. The thieves, one armed with a pistol, tried to rob a jewelry store on the city's famous Passeig de Gracia avenue, a police statement said, adding that the officers were waiting for the gang. The operation was part of a larger investigation with different crime units in Spain, and with the collaboration of the Serbian and German police, Reuters reported. The police recovered the jewelry that the gang was trying to steal.
JCK's Rob Bates reports on the Global Law Enforcement Diamond Forum held in The Hague, Netherlands at the end of June where members of the diamond industry mixed with agents from the FBI, Interpol and NGOs and heard presentations on one of the trade’s least favorite topics: are diamonds being used for money laundering and terrorist financing. "By the end, attendees came to two conclusions: First, the law enforcement attention on the diamond business is not going away. Second, that might not be so bad. Many in the trade didn’t always think that way.
The 100-year-old Indian diamond house and one of the largest in the trade, Shrenuj & Co., has run into trouble as lenders tighten their grip on the group which has survived across four generations, reported The Economic Times last week. Banks - including Bank of India and ICICI - with a combined exposure of around $450 million, have obtained a court order to repossess the company's diamond inventory and restrict the promoters' travel.
India's Enforcement Directorate (ED) has requested information from authorities in the United Arab Emirates relating to the Winsome Group. Winsome Diamonds and Jewellery owes in excess of $1 billion to a group of banks. In addition to the ED which is looking into money laundering allegations, India's Central Bureau of Investigation is investigating several people connected with Winsome, The Economic Times of India reports.
American law firm Federman & Sherwood has started an investigation on behalf of investors of Signet Jewelers Ltd. on whether Signet and certain of its officers and/or directors violated sections of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.
The system at the Israeli Diamond Exchange in Ramat Gan is built on trust, yet the arrest of veteran diamantaire Hanan Abramovich triggering an investigation into accusations that he defrauded fellow traders of $65m worth of money and stones, writes Financial Times, threatens to have a direct effect on traders who have allegedly lost out.
Brazilian prosecutors filed a $44 billion civil suit against two of the world's largest mining companies, Vale SA, BHP Billiton Ltd. and their iron-ore venture over a November dam rupture which has been called, “the worst environmental disaster in Brazil’s history”, killing as many as 19 people and causing severe environmental damage.
Jewelers of America (JoA) has ramped up advocacy efforts in Washington, D.C., writes InStoreMag, holding meetings with congressional leaders to support the jewelry industry’s recommendations to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on its proposed changes to the Guides for the Jewelry, Precious Metals, and Pewter Industries - specifically, use of the term “cultured” to describe synthetic diamonds - the trade association said in a release. The association is also planning a two-day fly-in to D.C.
According to Tel Aviv Magistrates Court Judge Ronit Poznanski-Katz, suspicions are hardening against diamond dealer Hanan Abramovich, suspected of forgery and fraud totaling $60 million, and the judge extended Abramovich's remand for the fifth time, this time by four days. "The array of documents submitted to the Court and a confidential report filed by the police put the reasonable suspicion concerning the crimes attributed to the suspect, which include other crimes besides fraud (including forgery and money laundering) on a firmer basis." Also released for the first time was the name of o
The Indian government says it will make every effort to bring back the 106-carat Koh-i-Noor diamond, which is part of the British crown jewels, only days after its solicitor general told the supreme court it would not request their return, writes The Guardian.
Israel Police are investigating serious allegations of a huge diamond theft at the Israel Diamond Exchange (IDE) which could lead to the bankruptcy of up to a dozen diamond companies at the bourse. The suspicions center on veteran diamond dealer Hanan Abramovich who is suspected of stealing the diamonds and was arrested on Tuesday evening. Details of the investigation indicate that diamonds valued at around $60 million are involved, the Globes web site reported.
A gang of fraudsters allegedly paid for watches, jewelry and diamonds with Monopoly money in three scams said to have been executed in London, Bristol and Leeds, a jury at a trial at Bristol Crown Court was told. The scams, some of which are admitted, all involve real euros being switched for bundles of fake notes marked either "facsimile" or "Monopoly" in deals worth a total of millions of euros.
The Antwerp World Diamond Centre has forwarded an alert from Kimberley Process authorities about a fake KP certificate issued from Sierra Leone. The warning reads:
Reports from multiple sources are starting to detail the murky structures hiding the tremendous wealth accumulated by certain players in the diamond and gold trade that emerged through last week's release of the Panama Papers.
The Indian Express has written that one of the largest diamond trading firms in the world, Antwerp-based Rosy Blue, has been linked to at least 24 offshore companies in the Panama Papers, "and these are shown to have been registered in the tax havens of British Virgin Islands, Seychelles, Anguilla and Mauritius ... Most companies," the paper writes, "were registered by Harshad Ramniklal Mehta, with a capital of $50,000 each, between 2004 and 2008.
Cecilia Gardner, who has headed the Jewelers Vigilance Committee for the past 18 years, will step down as president and CEO at the beginning of 2017, though she will likely continue to serve in a different role, JCK reports. She also serves as the body's general counsel, but it is not clear if she will continue in that role. Gardner told JCK that she wants to remain in the organization and the industry, but her new role is still being discussed.
The jewelers strike in India against the 1% excise duty on non-silver jewelery has entered its fourth week, despite claims from major trade bodies last week that they accepted the government’s assurance that there would be no raids and seizure of goods with the imposition of the tax, effectively ending the strike.
A federal grand jury in Williamsport, Pennsylvania indicted three California men on November 12, 2015 on charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, bank fraud, and fraud in connection with identification documents in an alleged nationwide scheme to defraud more than 40 jewelry stores and five banks. The indictment alleges that the men used counterfeit California driver’s licenses to purchase and attempt to purchase Rolex, Omega, and Breitling watches from jewelry stores throughout the United States.
News director of JCK Rob Bates outlines how a report in UAE newpaper The National, based on comments by Kimberley Process chair Ahmed bin Sulayem, wrongfully reported that diamond exports from the Central African Republic will soon resume thanks to, it claims, a deal brokered by Ahmed bin Sulayem.
Police say that a man rammed his car through the entrance of Dimo’s Fine Jewelry in Gainesville, Georgia, managed to steal just 50 earrings and was subsequently caught after crashing during his attempted getaway. Store owner Robert Dimo says it didn’t appear that Hogan had any clue what he was doing and just “ran around the store knocking down cases, trying to get into the watches,” but only came away with the earrings. “To be honest, it looked like I was watching a YouTube video of the world's dumbest criminal,” Dimo said. “I mean, it was just stupidity, just total stupidity.”
In the summer of 2013, India-based diamond trading company Winsome Group allegedly defrauded a number of public-sector banks of several billions of rupees and routed most of the money offshore, accumulating defaults upwards of $1 billion on loans from a consortium of 15 banks in India. This made the diamond house the country's second-largest wilful defaulter after Kingfisher Airlines.
Amnesty International Portugal has delivered a petition to the Angolan embassy in Lisbon with the signatures of almost 40,000 people calling on Angola to give “all the guarantees of a fair trial” to Angolan activist and journalist Rafael Marques. Rafael Marques was sentenced in May 2015 to six years in prison, suspended for two years, for slandering 12 people including members of the Angolan armed forces, following the publication of his book Blood Diamonds – Corruption and Torture in Angola) in 2011.
A court in London has handed down sentences to the remaining men involved in the approximate $20 million Hatton Garden burglary carried out last April. Three men had previously been convicted of involvement in the heist, while four more pleaded guilty last September to conspiracy to commit burglary. Three of them were sentenced to seven years in jail, while the fourth will be sentenced later as he was unwell and unable to attend court.
Never underestimate the stupidity of jewelry thieves seems to be the lesson from a robbery of 20-30 Rolex watches from a Ben Bridge Jewelers store in Austin, TX. The robber reportedly hid the bag of watches on the side of a highway less than one mile from the jewelry store which the police found without revealing the fact to the public. When the robber went to retrieve the watches, he found an empty bag and then became angry with his girlfriend whom he reportedly threatened to shoot for which he was jailed.
The Zimbabwe government cabinet has approved the takeover of the Chiadzwa diamond fields to be run 100% by the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) after mining companies failed to renew their licences. Mines and Mining Development Minister Walter Chidhakwa said their was no going back on the shutting down the operations of the mining companies, and said that they would not be welcome even if they made a U-turn and decided to join the consolidated company after all.
The former top Belgian-Israeli diamond dealer and former De Beers sightholder, Erez Daleyot, who cleared out his Antwerp business leaving behind debts totalling nearly $230 million (€208 million), has thus far eluded his creditors by allegedly hiding out in Israel or South Africa - where he also used to run one of the largest diamond factories, reports Belgian daily De Tijd. Last week, the Antwerp Court of Appeals finally put the case to rest, declaring his former company D.D.
"The Government of India should set up a regulatory authority to monitor the gemological laboratory business in India. The gemological laboratories issue only grading reports and no certificates. These laboratories have their own set of rules and regulations and even if consumers are cheated they have limited or no role to play. If a consumer has purchased a lab-grown diamond on natural diamond grading report, where will he go on being cheated? Who is responsible? Secondly, the gemological laboratories, after the scams are exposed, initiate investigations and inquiries, but the reports are never made public. These reputed gemological authorities are not certified by any authority in the world. They follow their own standards of grading and pricing. It is their responsibility to check duplication of reports,"
Diamond industry analyst Aniruddha Lidbide comments on the latest scandal in which a Delhi based company offered synthetic diamonds with natural diamond certificates on e-commerce platform Alibaba.
Alibaba, the leading e-commerce portal for global wholesale trade blacklisted and removed a New Delhi-based supplier of synthetic diamonds and gem simulants after it tried to sell lab-grown diamonds with fake Gemological Institute of America (GIA) natural diamond certificates. The New Delhi-based seller identified as International Trading Corporation (ITC) had put up the wholesale offer to supply 10,000 carats of CVD diamonds a week with the GIA certifi
The Sierra Leone Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved the environmental, social and health-impact assessment (ESHIA) for Stellar Diamonds' Tongo Dyke-1 project in Sierra Leone, writes Engineering News. “The approval of our ESHIA marks another key step in the process of obtaining the mining and environmental licences that will allow for the development of the 1.45-million-carat diamond resource at Tongo Dyke-1, one of four kimberlite dykes at our Tongo project.
The European Central Bank (ECB) is making preparations to remove the most valuable European banknote - the €500 note - from circulation. The bills too often serve illicit purposes, says the bank. "We are actively considering the issue and will take a decision soon," said member of the ECB board Benoît Coeuré in French newspaper Le Parisien. "The competent authorities increasingly suspect that the notes are used for illicit objectives.
News outlets in Pakistan are reporting that after some 800 letters from lawyer Javed Iqbal Jaffery and a rejected petition last December, the Lahore High Court (LHC) accepted on Monday a petition calling for the British Queen to hand over the famous 105-carat Koh-i-Noor diamond to Pakistan. Jaffery argued in his petition that the Koh-i-Noor actually belongs to Pakistan as the gem hailed from the territory that became Pakistan in the aftermath of the historic partition of the subcontinent in 1947.
Belgian anti-money laundering legislation requires not only banks, but also diamond traders to identify their clients, verify their identity and conduct a risk analysis before proceeding to a transaction. In this regard, Belgium is stricter than other European Member States.
The U.S. Marshals Service has started auctioning off several high-priced pieces of jewelry seized from notorious Ponzi scheme mastermind Bernard Madoff, and his wife, Ruth, including a diamond tennis bracelet, a gold money clip and two Patek Philippe watches. The proceeds from the auction, which ends on February 19, will be added to a restitution fund for Madoff's victims. The minimum opening bids for the watches and the bracelet was $21,250, while the money clip, made by Tiffany & Co, started at $380.
The Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board (“MVEIRB”) has completed its Report of Environmental Assessment for Dominion Diamond's Jay Project in the Northwest Territories and has recommended that it be approved, subject to the measures described in the Report. The Jay Project is an expansion of the Ekati Diamond Mine. The Report has been sent to the Minister of Lands, the Honourable Robert C. McLeod.
In an elaborate investigative piece that is clearly stirring up much debate, JCK News Director Rob Bates dives into yet another episode of the EGL overgrading saga, and wonders if overgrading lawsuits have become overkill. Nashville law firm Cummings Manookian recently launched an aggressive flyer and online campaign against a handful of small jewelry retailers – and in some cases their personnel - in the U.S., seemingly aimed at recruiting dissatisfied customers in their crusade against overgrading by the former EGL International diamond grading lab.
An American business site reports that two Maryland residents are suing a firm called Mervis Diamond Importers for allegedly selling them diamonds that were overgraded. CEO Ronnie Mervis said he hasn't read the suits yet and could not comment on them specifically. But in a statement posted on the Mervis website before the lawsuits were filed, Mervis offers a video with a personal message addressing the accusations and dismissing the questions as a “smear campaign.” “Recently, we’ve been challenged and harassed by a group from out of state making wild allegations,” he said in the video.
On 12 January, Element Six Technologies, a subsidiary of De Beers, initiated legal action in Singapore against IIa Technologies alleging infringement of its patents concerning synthetic diamond material. Element Six believes that certain of its patents for proprietary synthetic diamond products and their method of manufacture have been infringed and the legal action aims to defend its intellectual property rights and business interests.
The woman, Rose Marie O’Reilly, aged 63, from Texas was sentenced to four years in federal prison for her role in an estimated $1.4 million Ponzi scheme and was also to pay $1,463,128.50 in restitution. “O'Reilly ran a classic con with a dazzling twist – offering the allure of collectible silver antiques and pink diamonds," said U.S. Attorney Richard L. Durbin, Jr. "Like all Ponzi schemes, at its core was a simple scheme to defraud investors and use their money for her own gain.”