Thirteen years after the the United States government initially banned the import of all gemstones from Burma (Myanmar) to put pressure on the military junta that had ignored democratic elections, placed Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest, and persecuted minority groups throughout the country, U.S. sanctions on imports of the Burmese gemstones were officially lifted by an executive order on October 7.
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 federal jury in New York awarded Tiffany & Co. $5.5 million in damages last week in part one of a two-part verdict being handed down in its case against Costco Wholesale Corp., writes Michelle Graff for National Jeweler.
De Beers has won a domain name dispute at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). According to Bird & Bird, the law firm that represented De Beers, this is the first decision on a .feedback generic top-level domain (gTLD) registration, worldipreview.com reported.
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.
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.
True North Gems Inc. said that True North Gems Greenland A/S (TNGG), the company's operating subsidiary in Greenland, has initiated voluntary bankruptcy proceedings under the Bankruptcy Act in Greenland. TNGG's main asset is the Aappaluttoq Ruby and Pink Sapphire deposit and mine in S.W Greenland. The company owns 76% of the outstanding shares of TNGG, LNS Denmark APS (together with its affiliates, the LNS Group) owns 17%, and Greenland Venture A/S (Greenland Venture) owns 7%.
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 Zimbabwe Independent today published an opinion piece accusing the government and the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) of everything from violation of property rights to compliance failures, lack of transparency and failing to meet promised revenue targets due to the very low prices received for their diamonds.
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.
Kay Jewelers, a unit of Signet Jewelers, is increasing its discounts to revive its sparkle with consumers after its shares lost around 20% of their value in the past month due to allegations that some of its stores were swapping diamonds with fakes and that the company's debt-collection techniques could be problematic for regulatory bodies, CBS News in the United States reported. Signet CEO Mark Light said the company is adding "incremental promotions" to attract customers.
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.
Online diamond jewelry seller Blue Nile announced earlier this month that it would temporarily no longer ship to South Dakota in response to a new state law that says remote sellers must collect sales tax from local residents, even if, and this where the law differs from similar state laws, they have no physical presence in the state (known as nexus). The rule applies only to companies that sell more than $100,000 or process more than 200 in-state transactions a year.
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.
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
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.
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.
The femous Koh-i-Noor diamond that is part of Queen Elizabeth's crown was given to Britain and not stolen, India's government told the Supreme Court on Monday, which is hearing a suit seeking its return, writes India's Khaleej Times. The 105-carat Koh-i-Noor gem, which came into British hands during the colonial era, is the subject of a historic ownership dispute and has been claimed by at least four countries including India.
A judge in Miami has sided with a cruise ship operator which mistakenly sold a 20.64-carat emerald-cut diamond for $235,000 to passenger Thomas DePrince who bought it knowing it was worth several millions of dollars. When the retail operator, Starboard Cruise Services, realized the price tag was the per carat price not the overall cost, it called DePrince and explained the mistake. The retailer canceled the sale and refunded the purchase price to DePrince’s credit card.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
India's Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has ruled out a reversal of a proposed 1% excise duty on non-silver jewelry. Jewelers across India launched strike action on March 2 aimed at reversing the tax which is part of Jaitley's budget for the 2016-17 fiscal year which starts on April 1. He told parliament that the tax would not apply to small traders with a turnover of under $1.8 million and they would not be "harassed" by tax officials. Jaitley said the budget proposal would apply to “principal traders” and not jewelry makers.
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.
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.
A Zimbabwean court has ruled in favor of Mbada Diamonds to allow the largest diamond mine in the Marange diamond deposits to return and assume control of all its assets, thus overturning a government order last week to the nine mining firms operating in the area to stop mining operation because their licenses had expired. Zimbabwe's High Court on Monday ruled that Mbada should have full control of its assets, Reuters reported.