The Ongoing Antwerp Saga

Rapaport has an overseas report with an overview of the latest raid in Antwerp:

For years, Silvain G. [of Omega Diamonds] has been trading in diamonds from Angola through ASCorp, which was set up by the Angolan state in order to counter the smuggling of blood diamonds. Sources at the court state that a consignment of diamonds without the required Kimberley Process Certificates was found, and the investigators assume from that that they were illegally imported …

This is pretty striking, if true – to my knowledge, it’s the first investigation involving a major company and an alleged violation of Kimberley. (It’s also interesting that this company apparently also buys through official channels.)   In fact, one of the things that upset people in Antwerp is that this investigation is apparently not related to the Monstrey case — so the implication is, there are currently multiple investigations of the industry.

(By the way, let me just stress that nothing has been proven against this company — and that the case apparently does not involve actual blood diamonds, just a violation of the system designed to fight them.)

Now, the local Prosecutor has told the media that he is not targeting the industry – but he also noted the diamond sector has had “a number of crimes such as forgery, money laundering of criminal material benefits, breaches of the VAT and CIR-law.”  (That link is in Flemish; here is a very rough translation.)

What’s sad is that tension between Antwerp (the city) and its diamond industry has been going on for at least a decade. In response to this latest incident, the Antwerp World Diamond Center put out a statement noting the diamond industry’s importance to the local economy. That’s all true; and yet the industry and local government seem to still be at odds after ten years of investigations, raids, agreements, court cases and related drama. It’s hard to see where this goes now, but it doesn’t look good — for either Antwerp, or the industry.

JCK News Director