Antwerp authorities are investigating local diamond companies for alleged tax evasion, according to Belgian press accounts.
A report in the Belgian newspaper De Tijd says the investigation into secret Swiss bank accounts involves many “big players” in the industry and could be one of the country’s “biggest tax scandals ever.”
The newspaper article was slammed by Antwerp World Diamond Center, the industry group, which sent out a statement on Sept. 4 chastising the newspaper for printing leaked details of the investigation, including speculation as to who was involved.
The diamond sector “notes with astonishment the information that has appeared in the media and the apparent violation of the secrecy of the investigation,” said the statement. The AWDC also argued that having an overseas bank account “does not imply fraud.”
“The diamond industry is by definition an international sector that increasingly operates through international companies on all continents,” the AWDC said. “The involvement of persons and companies active in the diamond industry with international bank accounts, is the logical consequence of the international nature of the sector.”
“AWDC has continuously been working towards a clean and transparent worldwide diamond trade,” the statement continued. “In case persons or undertakings would at the end of a trial be convicted for fraudulent diamond trade practices, AWDC will not hesitate to take all appropriate measures.”
The case reportedly stems from the theft of a client list from the HSBC Private Bank in Switzerland in 2010.