Leading bankers attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, seemed receptive to Antwerp World Diamond Centre’s arguments for more diamond financing, according to Christiaan Van Doninck, AWDC’s head of business development, who helped present a seminar on the topic at the meeting.
The AWDC session was arranged by the local Flemish government and included talks by a Flemish minister and a representative from ABN Amro’s diamond and jewelry lending division. It’s part of the AWDC’s ongoing campaign to boost industry lending, in light of the closure of Antwerp Diamond Bank and cutbacks by other leading institutions.
“A lot of bankers are not aware of the [industry’s] high level of compliance,” Van Doninck says. “All diamonds are controlled. But a lot of bankers think about the old days and the Leonardo DiCaprio movie [Blood Diamond]. They don’t realize that things have changed with the Kimberley Process and new regulations.”
“When you tell them about the containers that come into Antwerp, you say: ‘Do they open up every one?’ They’ll say, ‘No, we that’s impossible.’ And yet that is what we do with diamonds. We look at every single one of them.”
The presentation opened some eyes, he adds.
“We had some of the large banks say, ‘I was not aware of this. That sheds a different light on things,’ ” Van Doninck says.
As with the presentation De Beers conducted for bankers last year in New York City, Van Doninck notes the Antwerp seminar concerned only the policies within the AWDC’s purview.
“We do check every stone in Antwerp,” he says, but adds other centers work on statistical models.