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The Antwerp Lab Bribery Case Blows Open

By Rob Bates, Senior Editor

Posted on June 22, 2012

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It looks like the police in Antwerp are doing what the authorities in this country didn’t do—arresting the people who allegedly bribed graders at a diamond lab. A Belgian newspaper is reporting that two diamond dealers (so far unnamed) were arrested on charges of bribing diamond graders at HRD (translation by Google):

A few Antwerp diamond dealers paid staff of the Diamond High Council in order to falsify certificates. Two of the diamond dealers were arrested earlier this week.

And now, Antwerp sources tell me that the police have arrested four people: Two dealers (as noted above), one former grader, and one person described as a "middleman." Again, we don't have any names at press time.

As far as what police are looking for, the Google translations of the Belgian press aren’t always clear, but Dutch-born Israeli writer Ya’akov Almor provided his version of one article:

The article states that, for HRD it was enough that the graders were fired and the defrauding clients declared persona non grata. But the judicial authorities, having taken note of the affair, decided to launch their own criminal investigation. They are investigating how the graders were able to circumvent HRD's system of anonymity, how the clients' specific goods could be identified and given special treatment, how much money was paid, and how long this has been going on. 

I should note that, contrary to what some Antwerp newspapers have written, it was the HRD that notified the authorities of what happened, with the hopes that they would investigate. The lab is said to have strict confidentiality measures in place to prevent this kind of thing from happening, which means any attempt to override them would have to be well-thought-out, as this apparently was.  

In other industry scandal news, Antwerp police have also been notified about the case of the unidentified synthetic diamond parcel. According to Edahn Golan of Idex, police are looking into whether the shipment in question was falsely labeled. 

Investigations are not pleasant things, but we should welcome the fact that these incidents do not appear to be getting swept under the rug, as so many problems in this industry have been. The diamond trade has traditionally not wanted law enforcement involved in its business, preferring to keep things “in the family.” But the family wasn’t always able to accomplish what it needed to; there are many stories of 47th Street dealers taking a lot of people in the trade, then reappearing several years later, and sometimes taking people again. If this trade wants to be taken seriously, it has to get serious about transgressions of industry rules, particularly where there is a possible harmful impact on both dealers and consumers. 

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