Antwerp The Correctional Court in Antwerp handed down “extremely harsh” sentences and levied “substantial fines” against four diamond traders accused of bribing a grader at HRD Antwerp to give their diamonds higher color grades than they deserved.
The Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) announced the sentences via a press release circulated Monday titled “No mercy for those involved in certification fraud.” On Tuesday, an AWDC spokesman said that the traders received up to 30 months in jail, 15 of which is effective immediately.
Although the AWDC is not releasing their names, the spokesman did reveal that three of the traders are from India–from Surat, Bhiwandi and Mumbai–and were managers of Belgian diamond companies. The fourth is from Sierra Leone.
The grader, whose name also is being withheld, received a “heavy” sentence as well, 18 months in jail, 9 of which is effective immediately, and a substantial fine in the case.
The AWDC did not have specific information on the amount of the fines. Judicial authorities in Antwerp could not immediately be reached for further comment on the case.
The HRD Antwerp grading bribery case dates back to March 2012, when news first surfaced that the lab fired a total of four graders for what it called at that time an “unprofessional act.” That June, a total of four people–reported to be two diamond traders, an HRD employee and a “facilitator”–were arrested in connection with the case.
The AWDC said there is another firm allegedly involved in the case and that the public prosecutor in Antwerp is submitting an appeal to enable this firm to receive an “even heavier” sentence.