Antwerp World Diamond Centre has lashed out at the city’s press and prosecutors after a local paper incorrectly reported that several diamantaires had been arrested for laundering drug money.
The industry group complained about an article that appeared this morning in local newspaper Gazet van Antwerpen, which falsely tied the diamond business to a group suspected of laundering money for American drug cartels.
“Although house searches were indeed conducted in the area near the Antwerp Central Station and in and around the diamond district, the Antwerp prosecutor wishes to emphasize that only one suspect has ties to the Antwerp diamond sector,” read a statement from Antwerp Public Prosecutor spokesperson Stephanie Chomé, as transmitted by AWDC. “The other suspects are not directly connected to the diamond industry. It would not be truthful to conclude that mainly diamond dealers are the subject of our investigation, and that the money-laundering operations were facilitated by the diamond industry.”
AWDC said in a statement that it was “furious” that Antwerp authorities had again miscommunicated to the press. In July, several newspapers inaccurately reported that prominent local diamantaire Dilip Mehta has been arrested in Dubai. That turned out to be a case of mistaken identity.
“For the second time in just three months, our entire industry has been put in a bad light because of an incorrect communication by the Antwerp Department of Justice,” said Margaux Donckier, spokesperson for AWDC.
“AWDC has no issue with the Department of Justice communicating over the investigations that it conducts, even if those investigations are linked to the diamond sector,” the statement continues. “However, it is unacceptable that stories begin to lead a life of their own as a result of unclear and insufficiently nuanced communication by the prosecutor.”