The son and brother of Israeli diamond tycoon Lev Leviev (pictured) are reportedly being held on suspicion of diamond smuggling, according to The Times of Israel.
The mogul’s son and brother are being held with four other employees of Leviev’s company in connection with an alleged scheme involving $80 million in diamonds being smuggled into Israel since 2010, said a report in Reuters, citing court transcripts.
A lawyer for son Zevulun Leviev told the news agency the charges were “baseless” and part of a plot to “illegitimately pressure his father.” The lawyer for brother Moshe Leviev denied the charges.
Yeshiva World News has reported that Israeli police soon hope to question Lev Leviev himself, who is said to be in Russia. He was born in Uzbekistan and is said to have close ties with Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Leviev’s company LLD could not be reached for comment. However, it told The Times of Israel: “The company knows nothing of the events reported in the media. Mr. Leviev and the companies he owns operate according to the appropriate norms, and in compliance with the law. We hope that the matter will quickly be clarified and that the suspicions will turn out to be baseless.”
Leviev, considered one of the world’s richest men, is mostly noted in the industry for his dealings with Russian authorities when that country had a contract with De Beers, and for the role that played in ending De Beers’ then-monopoly. He has also had a diamond jewelry retailer named after him. The Leviev New York City store closed last year following his company’s celebrated corporate divorce from Julius Klein.
In 2007, Leviev’s company, Africa-Israel USA, purchased the historic New York Times Building. Eight years later, he sold it to Kushner Companies, the real estate developer formerly headed by President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner.
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