Antwerp Federal Judicial Police commissioner and head of the authority’s ‘Diamond Squad’ – Agim De Bruycker was arrested last week in suspicion of money laundering and fraud. Authorities found EUR 500,000 worth of diamonds and gold and EUR 50,000 in cash in his property, which according to some media reports, he held on behalf of a diamond dealer to help him evade taxes.
The 57-year old diamond dealer, whose name and other details are not confirmed, was also arrested few days back and remains in custody for further investigation. However, according to a Belgian media report this diamond trader is Indian-origin Abhay N., who denies being the owner of the diamonds found in the commissioner’s house, contrary to the allegations made by De Bruycker. Suspicion of authorities arose in January after questionable cash transactions by the commissioner who recently bought an extravagant villa in south of Mechelen and a new luxury Range Rover.
Since its establishment in 2000, Antwerp Police’s ‘Diamond Squad’ was headed by De Bruycker, who led series of high-profile diamond fraud investigations. An accused diamond firm had also filed complaint against the Diamond Squad department of replacing its diamonds seized in 2004, in connection with some investigations, by four-times lower value diamonds.
The Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC), a leading diamond industry ‘Public, Private’ association, which states its mission “to serve and support the diamond business in Belgium”, is distancing itself from the entire episode by stating that it has “..no control over the operations and transactions of individual diamond traders..” and “This is a matter for the police and judicial authorities”.