The widely reported October “tiger kidnapping” of a diamond company employee in Belgium appears to have been staged, according to a statement from the Antwerp World Diamond Centre.
Last Oct. 11, three men entered the home of an employee of Kiran Exports, an Indian diamond company. Reports of the incident said that while the man’s wife was held hostage, the employee was forced to open the vaults of his company’s office. The total value of the stolen diamonds was estimated at $13 million. Officials called the case a tiger kidnapping, a tactic similar to one once used by the Irish Republican Army; business owners are kidnapped and forced to retrieve goods.
The incident caused widespread shock and uneasiness among Indian workers in Antwerp. “The diamantaires in Antwerp are no longer safe,” the president of the Surat Diamond Association told the Times of India. “Time and again, the industry leaders have demanded security of diamond traders in Antwerp, but nothing has been done so far.”
According to the Antwerp World Diamond Centre, police now believe the purported victim may have staged the kidnapping. Recently, five people were arrested in connection with the case, including a Kiran employee. Four of them have confessed to their involvement, the group said.
A large portion of the stolen goods, estimated at $8.5 million, was recovered during a raid in Antwerp on July 31, the group said.
“We are surprised and appalled to learn that an employee of the concerning diamond company might be involved in this case, especially seeing how confidence is a crucial element in the diamond trade,” said an AWDC statement. “A tiger kidnapping still remains an exception. The past three years, only two tiger kidnappings took place in Antwerp, including this case. The efforts toward security, prevention, and the intensified collaboration with other authorities clearly pay off.”