|The Antwerp Correctional Court in Belgium has handed down harsh sentences of mandatory prison sentences and what is described as "substantial" mandatory fines to five people, including four traders, found guilty of diamond certificate fraud.
The fraud, reports the Antwerp World Diamond Center (AWDC), involved bribing an employee of the HRD Antwerp diamond lab in order to obtain certificates for their diamonds stating a higher color grade, thus artificially increasing the value of the diamonds.
The full text of the AWDC announcement follows below:
No mercy for those involved in certification fraud
Four traders have received extremely harsh sentences from the Correctional Court in Antwerp for committing fraud concerning diamond certificates. The traders in question criminally bribed an employee from the HRD Antwerp diamond lab, and in this way were able to obtain certificates stating a higher color grade for their diamonds than is actually the case. This enabled them to fraudulently sell their diamonds for a substantially higher price than the actual value of the diamonds in question.
The court gave a clear signal with its harsh judgment concerning the criminal facts. The judge sentenced the five accused, including the four traders, to heavy mandatory prison sentences and substantial mandatory fines. Furthermore, the public prosecutor is also submitting an appeal to enable another firm involved to receive even heavier sentences, an appeal followed by HRD Antwerp and AWDC.Ari Epstein, CEO of AWDC: "We are pleased that the court hands down very harsh penalties on these types of crimes. These judgments deliver an unmistakable message: those who break the rules will be punished severely. In our industry, everything depends on trust - when you give your word, you keep it. Those that violate that principle damage the reputation of the entire industry, and that is simply unacceptable."