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 London Diamond Bourse (LDB) has partnered with a government agency, the Insolvency Service, to deal with the issue of companies claiming to offer diamonds as an investment. The London bourse has published a document on the public area of its website to help the public avoid falling foul of “boiler room” scams purporting to sell highly lucrative investment diamonds. The consumer advice was developed by the exchange and the Insolvency Service with former chief executive officer of the British Jewellers Association, Simon Rainer, consulting for the project.
Australia is considering tightening its anti-money laundering regulations to include precious stone dealers and real estate agents following a warning from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) over potential illicit cash entering the country. While strengthened rules would not target any particular country, Australian authorities are reacting "following a surge of cash from wealthy Chinese buyers looking for a safe haven away from the market turmoil of their home markets," Reuters reported.
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.”
British police are offering a reward for information after admitting they have no clues as to the identity of 'Basil', the mystery redhead who is thought to have escaped with the proceeds of the Hatton Garden raid estimated at £10 million ($14.5 million). Police are appealing for the public’s help to find the unknown thief – dubbed Basil and thought to have been the gang’s ‘inside man’ on the record breaking job – as three of his accomplices were convicted of their role in the Hatton Garden heist. They will be sentenced in March.
An apparently lazy 65-year-old man, James Anderson, allegedly went into the Hyannis K-Mart store, cut security wires from one of the jewelry case displays, put the entire display case in a shopping cart and left with an estimated $10,000 worth of gold jewelry which he put into his car and drove off. Police officers had a description of the thief and his vehicle based on store surveillance video which showed him wearing a winter hat that had the word "Selfie" on the front.
The Jewelers’ Security Alliance will pay out a $10,000 reward it offered for information leading to the arrest of a lone female armed robber who held up six jewelry stores in the Southeast of the United States. Abigail Lee Kemp has been charged with robberies at six jewelers, five alone and one with an accomplice in which she is alleged to have stolen $4 million in goods during a five-month run of crime. She faces a maximum prison term of 20 years. Tips identifying the 24-year-old former waitress were received by both the FBI and the JSA following the most recent holdup.
The FBI has arrested a woman suspected of robbing multiple jewelry stores across the US Southeast, a spree that started last April and is estimated at $4 million. Abigail Lee Kemp, 24, was arrested without incident Friday in Smyrna, Ga., the FBI said in a statement late Saturday. One other person with Kemp was also taken into custody, but the FBI declined to identify that person. The latest robbery occurred 4 January, when the woman zip-tied the hands of two jewelry store employees in North Carolina — forced the staff into a back room, put several items into a shopping bag and fled.
Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has decided not to take action against HSBC, Britain's largest bank, whose Swiss arm helped clients to evade tax. HSBC was hit by a scandal last year when leaked bank account details showed how its Swiss unit helped wealthy customers to evade taxes by concealing assets and handing out cash to avoid the authorities. HSBC’s private banking clients, which also featured 2,000 diamond industry names, held more than $100 billion.
A group of 19 people are to face trial over a $50 million diamond heist at Brussels airport in February 2013, AFP reported citing the Belga news agency. A gang of armed men posing as police seized the gems from a passenger plane about to take off for Zurich in an operation that lasted just 10 minutes without a shot being fired in one of the world's biggest diamond thefts. Prosecutors said nine suspects will go on trial on charges of direct involvement in the robbery and the rest on charges of hiding the diamonds, Belga reported.
Mining entrepreneur Joe Gutnick, who made part of his fortune in diamond mining, and his company Legend International Holdings face a $40.4 million bill, plus interest, after an Australian court upheld a ruling in Singapore that found the Melbourne businessman had made "fraudulent misrepresentations" in a deal with India's largest fertilizer collective. Gutnick is liable for $28.05 million of the total award by the Supreme Court of Victoria in favor of Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative (IFFCO) and its subsidiary Kisan International Trading.
Up to $10 million in diamonds were 'stolen' from a New York jeweler who admitted he had failed to lock the safe where the gems were stored. Jonathan Birnbach told police that he discovered $5 million to $10 million worth of diamonds missing from the vault in his business in the heart of the Diamond District.
Property millionaire David Pearl who bought a long lease at the site after the previous leasehold owner, Hatton Garden Safe Deposit Ltd, shut down following the heist last April when £14 million ($21 million) of goods was stolen said he was looking at several options. He was reported as saying that the site could become a museum around the incident, commemorating one of London’s largest raids.
More than $170,00 worth of jewelry and watches were stolen from the store which Paltrow opened less than two weeks ago. Three men entered the store and forcibly opened a cabinet full of high-end goods, and although they were spotted by staff who alerted the police they managed to get away.
Further evidence of the ongoing smuggling of diamonds from the Marange area of eastern Zimbabwe to Mozambique has been provided with the reporting of a case of a man who hid 72 diamonds in his underwear and was stopped shortly before he reached the Mozambique side of the border. The diamonds were reportedly worth more than $14,300. News reports in recent years have spoken of countless cases of smuggling of rough stones from Marange out of the country, particularly on behalf of senior army officers, officials, and businesspeople.
Designer Joseph Bruce has created a necklace based on the hole left behind from the Hatton Garden jewelry raid last April, when thieves drilled through a 50cm wall with special drills. The 18K gold necklace, called Hatton Tom Foolery, was commissioned by an anonymous “well known Hatton Garden jeweler,” said Bruce, who added that the piece is also available in silver.
Meir Ohana convicted of whitewashing checks and creating fictitious accounts as well as moving cash abroad under the cover of importing diamonds without reporting any of it to the tax authorities. The business is estimated to have dealt with at least $100 million of business. In addition to the 10-year sentence, Ohana will also serve a two-year term on probation and pay a fine of one million shekels ($260,000).
The men reportedly drowned in Chiadzwa on Saturday after they jumped into a slime dam as they sought to evade arrest by security officers at the Diamond Mining Company (DMC) concession, according to a report in NewsDay citing the Centre for Research and Development (CRD). The rights groups said the bodies of the deceased were retrieved from the slime dam on Monday.
In May 2013 police in Switzerland, Belgium and France detained more than 30 people in connection with a spectacular €40 million diamond theft at Brussels airport in February of that year. Diamonds and cash were recovered in Geneva. Last week, a Geneva estate agent who hid jewels from the heist in his cellar was given a two-year suspended sentence by a court in Geneva, which found the 61-year-old man guilty of receiving stolen goods and money laundering. Judges determined he hid the diamonds, valued at almost $7 million, for over two months.
Rami Baron, president of the Diamond Dealers Club of Australia and CEO of jewelry insurer Q Report, warns about the proliferation of cybercrime in the jewelry industry. "There isn’t anyone I know who hasn’t had some sort of cyber fraud inflicted on them, or at least knows someone close to them who hasn’t suffered a loss," he writes. "The diamond and jewelry industry is easy pickings", adding that, "We all recently saw the GIA get hacked. Is your security better than theirs?
A London court has heard that two-thirds of the property stolen during a safety deposit case raid in Hatton Garden in London over the Easter weekend in April has still not been recovered. It is estimated that £14 million (around $21 million) worth of jewels and precious metals were stolen when raiders went through a wall into a vault at Hatton Garden Safety Deposit Ltd., opening 73 safety deposit boxes, of which 29 were empty. Planning for the raid, described in court as the “largest burglary in English legal history”, began as far back as 2012.
With little more than two months to go, the United States was on track to record the first-ever year without a jewelry industry murder in 2015. However, an Indiana jeweler, John Turner, aged 78, was killed by a gunshot wound sustained during a robbery on November 7 at his store in Indiana, JCK reports. Police have arrested a person in connection with the case and uncovered property, money, and jewelry linked to Turner’s murder. Jewelers’ Security Alliance President John Kennedy said that homicides remain at historically low levels, due to greater support from law enforcement.
Notorious international jewel thief, Doris Payne (85), is apparently not retired after all - she is back behind bars, charged with stealing a pair of $690 earrings from a Saks Fifth Avenue store in Atlanta, in the latest caper of her decades-long career as a jet-setting burglar with sparkling taste. Ten years ago she swore she was done with a lifetime of pilfering jewels across two continents. Several arrests later, in 2013 she said again that she was leaving that life behind.
The GIA is cooperating with the Indian police authorities investigating the unauthorized remote access to GIA’s grading information database and the alteration of 1,042 diamond grading reports and two former employees of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) are in custody. The Indian police informed the GIA that the investigation has reached a point where we may now publish the client accounts that submitted the diamonds in question.
With demand for South Africa's natural resources dropping, the economy is falling dramatically short of its predicted growth levels. Growth was 5.6 percent in 2007 but this year is seen dropping below 2 percent. Once considered the economic jewel in Africa's crown, South Africa has been overtaken by Nigeria as the largest economy on the African continent.
JCK reports the Gemological Institute of America has revoked 1042 grading reports from diamonds predominantly submitted at GIA in India, after internal controls revealed reports were altered by former employers of GIA's database partner Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) hacking into the system. GIA urges clients in possession of any of these grading reports or diamonds to return them immediately to GIA. Both GIA and TCS said they have transfered the results of their investigation to Indian police authorities, who are currently investigating the matter.
With the serving of charges relating to five diamantaires in Tel Aviv in the case of a so-called 'Underground Bank' at the Israel Diamond Exchange which operated between 2005 and 2011, full details have come to light about the scale of its operations and the dark areas in which much trade takes place away from the eyes of the tax authorities, according to the Globes financial daily.
Global Witness has issued a major report, "Jade: Myanmar's 'Big State Secret'", revealing an industry far bigger than previously thought, worth up to US$31 billion in 2014 alone (for the sake of comparison, the value of 2014 global diamond mining is estimated at $14-18 billion). That is equivalent to nearly half the GDP for the whole of Myanmar, but hardly any of the money is reaching ordinary people or state coffers. Instead, the sector is secretly controlled by networks of military elites, drug lords and crony companies associated with the darkest days of junta rule.
New York jeweler Slavik Hayimov has pleaded guilty to laundering the proceeds of a nationwide jewelry theft ring and faces 20 years in prison when he appears in court for sentencing on February 26. Hayimov was arrested after the 2012 bust of a South American gang, which robbed at least 15 jewelry salespeople in seven states in a three-year spree that reportedly fetched around $5 million in goods. Hayimov was charged with buying goods for cash on at least 15 occasions at far less than market value knowing they were stolen.
The Art Loss Register, the world’s largest private database of stolen art and collectibles, has launched a new service called the Watch Register, with a database of over 50,000 timepieces which is the largest searchable database of watches available for due diligence. The register aims to encourage jewelry retailers, pawnbrokers and others in the trade to carry out due diligence, to recover stolen watches, and in the long-term to reduce thefts.
A man being held in a high security jail in England after pleading guilty to taking part in the Hatton Garden Safety Deposit Ltd raid over the Easter weekend is offering to tell the police where he has hidden his share of the stolen goods. Danny Jones, aged 58, wrote to Sky News crime correspondent, Martin Brunt, saying: “I’ve instructed my solicitor [lawyer] to tell the police Flying Squad that I want to give back my share of the Hatton Garden burglary, they said it’s in motion."
U.S.-Belgian national Michel Desaedeleer has been extradited to Belgium where he is in custody and charged with crimes in Sierra Leone, TV station RTBF reported. Spanish authorities arrested Desaedeleer on September 1 on charges of enslavement and diamond pillaging during Sierra Leone’s civil war, according to Swiss-based victims’ association Civitas Maxima. Desaedeleer is suspected of forcing enslaved civilians to mine for diamonds in Sierra Leone’s eastern district of Kono between 1999 and 2001.
On Tuesday, Platinum futures in New York have fallen to levels last seen during the global financial crisis of 2008 due to investor concerns triggered by the fallout from a cheating scandal at Volkswagen. Platinum, which is widely used in the jewelry industry, for delivery in January dropped more than $20 or 2.5% and fell below $900 an ounce. That price level was last seen in October 2008 as the global financial crisis was at its height.
Justin Abramowitz, 32, would ask to see an engagement diamond, then swap it with a ring set with a worthless piece of cubic zirconia, court papers allege. He started his crime spree on July 24 in a jewelry store on 47th Street and is charged with stealing four rings with a total value of tens of thousands of dollars.
The Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair was hit by two thefts within an hour after opening. Coming on the heels of Wednesday's arrest of a Mainland Chinese woman for possession of a fake diamond that police believe she intended to swap for a real gem, on Thursday another two thefts were reported: a necklace and two bags of pearls worth more than HK$500,000 (US$65,000) in total. The first happened about four hours after the show opened. Staff found a female visitor from the mainland stealing a necklace worth US$60,000 from a booth. They gave chase when the woman left the booth.
The Jewelers’ Security Alliance (JSA) in the United States is increasing a reward for information leading to the arrest of a 20+ woman in a case it describes as “unprecedented.” Indeed, the case has received national exposure on both CNN and Good Morning America due to its unusual nature. It involves a female suspect who enters jewelry stores alone and armed, ties up employees and then leaves with thousands of dollars in diamond jewelry.
Less than one hour before the opening of Hong Kong’s gems and jewelry fair on Wednesday a suspected thief from mainland China was arrested for possession of a fake diamond which police believe she intended to swap for a real gem at a booth of the show's many diamond exhibitors. The woman, aged 42, arrived from the central Henan province on Tuesday, and was stopped and searched by police after she was seen acting suspiciously at a registration booth at the AsiaWorld-Expo where the Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair opened today.
Following an (all-too-literal) in-depth probe, police had a 10 million baht ($278,000) diamond removed from the large intestine of a Chinese visitor to Bangkok. The woman had been accused of stealing from a jewelry fair, adding a piece of rock-hard evidence to the case against her. The woman and a Chinese man were arrested Thursday night at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport on their way out of Thailand on the basis of surveillance video from the fair just outside Bangkok, where earlier that day the duo allegedly switched a fake stone for the real one after asking to inspect it.
Four 'prominent' men from Geneva, including three real estate developers and a lawyer, will stand trial in November on charges of money laundering and embezzlement linked to the spectacular, $50 million diamond heist of an airplane in Brussels in 2013. Many of the stones, which were being transported from Antwerp to Zurich, were recovered in the first two months after the heist, while an undisclosed portion was sold on.
Israel Diamond Exchange (IDE) members met on Tuesday to debate the impact of an Anti-Money Laundering Law on the local diamond industry. The first part of the law, dealing with client identification, goes into effect on September 15. A month later, IDE members will be subject to supervision in the field of client identification by the office of the Ministry of Economy's Diamond Controller, Shmuel Mordechai. “At first we will help people to understand and adapt their business, but if we detect any irregularities, we will treat them severely,” Mordechai said.