Russian police uncovered around $3 million worth of stolen diamonds, and over $2.5 million in cash, at the homes of a criminal ring operating inside state-controlled diamond producer Alrosa, authorities said on Monday, reports Reuters. Alrosa confirmed that security services had uncovered an ongoing diamond theft ring in its sorting and grading department, with someone on the inside faciliating the larceny. The authorities detained a woman (Elena Kanunnikova), the Alrosa employee said to be in charge of the embezzlement, a mediator, and another man said to be responsible for sellin
Several media reports from Israel indicate that Israeli law enforcement officials say they want to question Lev Leviev, the business baron whose companies allegedly are at the center of a vast diamond-smuggling ring that has operated for years, according to Israeli daily Haaretz. Six suspects were arrested Monday as part of a probe into suspected diamod smuggling by Israeli tycoon Lev Leviev.
"The [jewelry] industry has seen 20 smash-and-grab robberies in jewelry stores since October, as a troubling trend that began in the Midwest has now spread to other areas of the country", writes Rob Bates of JCK. According to Jewelers’ Security Alliance (JSA) president John Kennedy, “The frequency and the number of these crimes are growing and growing. We think it’s very dangerous.
Twelve suspected Russian gangsters stole $9-10 million in diamonds from wholesalers in Midtown’s Diamond District, federal prosecutors said Wednesday. A long-running investigation into international diamond fraud led to the arrest of ten (or nine, depending on source) Russians who allegedly cost their victims nearly $10 million, reports several U.S. news outlets. The scam victimized diamond dealers in New York City, Las Vegas and Mumbai.
Citing figures from Jewelers Security Alliance, National Jeweler reports that jewelry crime rose 6 percent year-over-year in 2016, to 1,245 reported crimes committed against U.S. jewelry firms, compared with 1,177 in 2015. The losses in dollar terms were roughly equivalent, increasing approximately 5% to $72.4 million. Michelle Graff notes there were a total of six industry homicides in 2016 - five jewelers and one traveling salesman - up from two in 2015, while jewelers killed five robbers, up from three in 2015.
Following 'Pink Panther', this week Europol organized, together with Austria and Switzerland, the first international conference on jewelry robbery and burglary under a new umbrella project entitled ‘Diamond’. Hosted at Europol’s headquarters in The Hague, the event brought together more than 70 experts from almost all EU Member States, as well as third parties from Europe, Asia, the Americas, Eurojust and private jewelry/watch companies. ‘Diamond’ was initially composed as a follow-up project to Interpol’s ‘Pink Panther’ project, which ended in 2016.
An armed man walked into a Harry Winston jewelery shop in Cannes without opening fire, before walking away with €15 million ($16M) in diamonds. A man in his thirties showed up at the store on January 18 at the store on the city's famed Croisette waterfront promenade and initially passed himself off as a customer. "He asked to see diamond ornaments on behalf of a sponsor. The saleswoman was suspicious and gave him a catalogue," the prosecutor said. His face uncovered, hidden only behind sunglasses.
Brazilian news sources, relying on information from the police, are reporting that a gang of criminals in have robbed the Braúna diamond mine. More than twenty heavily armed men on Sunday broke into the Brauna property in Nordestina, 750 kilometers north of Rio de Janeiro. They opened the safe using explosives. The criminals left in several cars and took five hostages, who were later released on a country road. The perpetrators are still missing. No announcements have been made about the value, size or even nature of their haul.
Diamond smuggling in China, an issue that has received significant press in recent years, is not going away.
Four Israeli diamond dealers have appeared in court in Tel Aviv accused of holding close to 100 million shekels ($21 million) at HSBC Switzerland that was not reported to the Israel Tax Authority authorities. The unnamed diamond dealers allegedly held undeclared accounts at the bank, the tax authority said on Thursday, Reuters reported. A Tel Aviv court later agreed to release them after posting bail. All four have denied the allegations.
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.
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.
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.
The number of crimes against the jewelry industry dropped in the first half of this year, in a continuation of the trend seen in recent years, according to the Jewelers’ Security Alliance (JSA) as cited by JCK Online. The decline is due to increased activity by law enforcement bodies and better security precautions by jewelers, the JCA said. There was a fall in the number of reported crimes to 528 from 562, while losses in dollar terms declined to $30.8 million from $33.2 million.
Israel's tax authority will be cracking down on unreported capital, after receiving a list from French authorities of more than 8,000 Israeli customers who held bank accounts at the Swiss arm of HSBC. Israeli newspapers reported that diamond company owners were on the list, along with bank owners and directors, real estate moguls, retired military officers, public and private company heads, well-known lawyers, artists, soccer players, sports agents, a retired judge and a former prosecutor.
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.
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.
Five men who used Monopoly money to trick jewelers in a scam worth £7 million (around $10 million) have been sentenced to jail terms ranging from two to seven years in the United Kingdom. The men were found to have placed fake notes from the famous board game between real bank notes. The biggest loser was jeweler John Calleija who has a shop in the Royal Arcade on Old Bond Street in London who lost £6.1 million (approximately $8.5 million).
Representatives of major law enforcement organizations and other groups from around the world, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Europol, Interpol, the Netherlands police, the U.S. State Dept., and the World Customs Organization, will be gathering in The Hague from June 28 to 29 for a two-day meeting on the role diamonds might play in money laundering and terrorist financing.
A lengthy article in the Ha'aretz newspaper begins by looking at the case of Hanan Abrahamovich and an alleged fraud with a value of around $55 million before talking about other financial shenanigans, such as an underground bank that operated within the Israel Diamond Exchange, bankruptcies and a family firm that allegedly owes other IDE members $15 million. “For seven months Hanan Abramovich told us stories – there is money, there isn’t money. He kept saying ‘God will provide’ and making promises. We counted 12 different stories. All the scenarios imploded.
Veteran Israeli diamond dealer Hanan Abramovich has been remanded in custody for a further two days on suspicion of fraudulently acquiring $55 million of diamonds. In addition, his son was remanded for 24 hours on suspicion of being involved, Israeli financial news outlet, TheMarker reported, citing Israel Diamond Exchange (IDE) sources. His son was questioned by police after diamantaires said that he was involved in his father's business, though he claimed to not know anything about them during questioning.
Gujarati diamantaires in Hong Kong are threatening to move their diamond business to "safer countries" as a result of a rise in robbery attacks on members of the diamond community in recent years. The diamantaires have asked local authorities to beef up security. Hong Kong's diamond business is valued at $13 billion annually and most of it is controlled by Gujarati diamantaires, The Times of India reports. The turnover of the diamond jewelry and diamond-set watch business is estimated at more than $30 billion.
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.
Customers and staff of a company called Asia Fine Diamonds (AFD) are up in arms after the so-called investment firm went out of business owing money, Singapore's Straits Times newspaper reported. A report cites a client, Stephen Yeo, who invested $17,785 in a 0.21-carat round cut diamond - described as "fancy intense purplish pink" - from AFD. He never laid hands on it. Meanwhile, an AFD employee said that about 20 sales, telemarketing and administrative staff have not been paid for about two months, with the office closing down in January.
Starting off with some of the more outlandish comments thrown out by presidential hopefuls, jewelry industry consultant Ben Janowski looks at the impact of changes to come on the economy and the jewelry business in particular. The middle class is shrinking as the number of well-paying jobs decline. "The substantial decline of the middle class, abetted by the economy's shift from manufacturing the services, has stalled the US jewelry business. For some 20 years or so, US jewelry business has stayed at about $30 billion a year, in spite of steadily rising material costs.
Heritage FA Limited, which marketed and sold colored diamonds and other commodities to the public for investment, has been officially ordered into liquidation. An investigation found that vulnerable and elderly individuals were being targeted and aggressively sold investments in fancy colored diamonds and rough diamonds, as well as gold, fine art and oil wells. It was discovered that at least £7 million (around $10 million) was raised from investors generating commission of over £2.5 million (about $3.5 million) before the company was forcibly closed.
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.”
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.
The Jewelers’ Security Alliance (JSA) reported that the total number of crimes committed against U.S. jewelry firms reported to the JSA decreased by 14.7% to 1,177 in 2015 from 1,381 in 2014. The total dollar losses from crimes committed against U.S. jewelry firms decreased from $77.8 million in 2014 to $69.3 million in 2015, a decrease of 10.9%. The JSA said that "due to excellent work by the FBI and local law enforcement agencies" there were arrests of two major smash and grab robbery gangs in the first half of 2015.
India's Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) has called on diamantaires, traders and jewelers not to sell, throw away or give away original diamond grading reports where customers say they don't want them. The appeal follows an expose by Chaim Even-Zohar last month which revealed a New Delhi-based firm was selling CVD lab-grown diamonds with GIA natural diamond grading reports online.
Zimbabwe's police have recovered the bodies of three illegal diamond miners and are searching for up to seven more missing people, a week after government banned operations at the Marange diamond deposits, a spokesman told Reuters. The bodies were retrieved from a shaft in Marange owned by Diamond Mining Company, police spokeswoman Charity Charamba said. "We have had to call in our sub-aqua unit because the area is waterlogged. We understand there could be up to seven people trapped," Charamba said.
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.
Jewelry maker Pandora announced that the Eastern High Court in Copenhagen has acquitted the firm on all counts in a case concerning potential breach of the Securities Trading Act. The verdict concerns a case dating back to 2011 and relates to Company Announcement No. 30 of 2 August 2011, when Pandora announced a downward adjustment of its revenue growth expectations, two weeks earlier than the ordinary reporting date for the Q2 2011 results.
In a startling revelation, industry analyst Chaim Even-Zohar will this week unveil an investigation that shows that CVD lab-grown diamonds are being offered for sale with GIA natural diamond certificates by the giant Chinese online retailer Alibaba which claims to have 400 million users. The diamonds, which come with laser inscriptions and GIA certificates, are offered for sale by an Indian company called the International Trading Corporation.
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.
The British jewelry and watch sector loses around $156 million (£108 million) every year as a result of counterfeit goods being shipped into the market, new EU figures show. Overall in the EU, the manufacture of counterfeit jewelry, watches, handbags and luggage costs businesses €3.5 billion ($3.95 billion) a year.
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.