103 accused in record diamond fraud trial

Summary

The defendants in the biggest-ever trial for diamond fraud are accused of cheating the government out of €500 million

Forgery and laundering among charges

The biggest-ever trial for diamond fraud is due to start in Antwerp today, with 103 defendants accused of operating a system that cheated the government out of half a billion euros in taxes in five years.

The prosecution alleges that the diamond transporter Monstrey Worldwide Services set up four circuits that allowed its customers to import and export diamonds without paying tax. Representatives of Monstrey and 36 diamond trading companies stand together in the dock. Among them is the leading company Rosy Blue and its owner, Dilip Mehta, who was made a baron by King Albert in 2006.

The case came to light in 2005 when Monstrey couriers were found in possession of large sums of cash without being able to give a satisfactory explanation of where it came from. The accused face charges of forgery, tax fraud, money laundering and criminal conspiracy.

The court has scheduled 16 sittings to hear arguments, including 67 hours of pleas from the defence. The trial is expected to finish in about four weeks, barring delays.

Photo courtesy Antwerpen Toerisme en Congres

Diamond sector

Antwerp is the world’s leading hub for diamond trade. For more than five centuries, diamonds have been bought, sold and cut here. The Antwerp diamond quarter has weathered revolutions, wars, occupations and, more recently, growing competition from diamond centres in emerging countries.
Bourses - Antwerp boasts four diamond trading exchanges, making Belgium the only country with this many bourses.
Antwerp Cut - The art of polishing diamonds was invented in the city.
On foot - The diamond quarter consists of two pedestrian-only streets close to Central Station.
84

percent of the world’s rough diamonds pass through the city

1 447

first record of a diamond trade in Antwerp

1 800

diamond dealers