Law Bodies' Diamond Business Interest 'May Not Be So Bad After All'

18/07/2016 10:18

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. Traditionally, the diamond industry has not welcomed any form of government, and in particular law enforcement, involvement in its business because—well, what business does?"

Although there was considerable concern before the meeting, especially given the conference subtitle: Diamond Trafficking, Illicit Trade, and Threat Financing, afterwards "most found the atmosphere refreshingly non-confrontational". David Bonaparte, president and CEO of Jewelers of America, said: "A lot of us going in thought, ‘Are they going to drop a bomb on us?’. But it was just the opposite. They wanted to hear from us. What I liked about it is their willingness to cooperate and listen and interact. For a lot of the members of law enforcement, it was Jewelry 101 education.” Industry representatives repeatedly talked about the efforts the trade is making to increase transparency and overall standards.

While the trade may not always welcome more attention from the authorities, many now feel that is part of the new world, Bates writes, citing Erik Jens, head of diamond and jewelry clients for ABN Amro Bank as saying: “We made very clear to law enforcement and to these NGOs that we should unite to prevent any abuse of the product. There is a lot of pressure on the industry now, but that can be good. In my mind, the industry working together with law enforcement will only make us stronger.”