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Report Places Omega Diamond Settlement Into Question

Jan 13, 2014 10:02 AM   By Marc Goldstein
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RAPAPORT... A new report has cast the Omega Diamonds settlement in an uncertain light, although the case had ostensibly concluded with the company agreeing to pay a settlement of $218.7 million (EUR 160 million) for unpaid taxes and the approval of the Antwerp Chamber of Council. On January 9, Le Soir newspaper reported that the terms of the settlement could be overturned because one of the parties who filed the civil action suit, David Renous, a former Omega employee, was not a party to the deal. And on this basis alone, the Chamber of Council could refuse to validate the settlement.

In addition, Swiss and Israeli fiscal authorities are now showing signs of interest in the case. If the Antwerp Attorney General has closed its own case without sealing the settlement, any further evidence originating in, for example, Basel or Tel-Aviv could be used to bolster the case.

Moreover, this development has led critics of the Kimberly Process (KP) to further emphasize the global monitor’s inefficiency in monitoring rough diamond value for customs purposes,  even though it has claimed to have reduced the flow of ''blood diamonds'' from 15 percent in 2003 to 0.2 percent last year. Given these inefficiencies, the six Belgian majority political parties came up with their own more stringent KP amendment proposals, which they will be recommending to the UN via the European Commission (EC).

However, even if those suggestions for more severe guidelines for the rough diamond trading are folded into KP regulations, the process of implementing these changes is likely to be a lengthy one.

Tags: Belgium, Customs, Marc Goldstein, omega diamonds, settlement, tax
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