Rapaport Magazine

Antwerp Market Report

Tender Facility Opens

By Marc Goldstein
8The Antwerp Diamond Tender Facility (ATF) was officially inaugurated by The Antwerpsche Diamantkring (the Kring), one of the four diamond bourses in Antwerp, and the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) on October 17. Located
on the first floor of the AWDC building, ATF was described by AWDC spokespersons as a “full-fledged, triple-A facility that enables companies to tender their goods right in the heart of the industry in the Antwerp diamond district. The tender floor includes seven viewing rooms, access and video control and is now open for rent.” Individual Antwerp companies have organized tenders in their own offices in the past, but this is the first independent facility, open to every company, and it is the best equipped in terms of security and services. 

Among the first to use the facility was Johan Erikson, chief executive officer (CEO) of First Element, a company providing cleaning, valuation, sorting and marketing/tendering services to the Botswana diamond industry, who said: “We are very excited and pleased with the new tender facility. We believe that it is a very important milestone for the world diamond market. The fact that companies will now be able to sell their diamonds in Antwerp, in a totally independent state-of-the-art tender facility, will not only make more diamonds available to the industry but will also offer a platform to increase trading in Antwerp. We look forward to long and mutually beneficial relationships with the AWDC and the Kring.”

Crime Threatens Industry
Antwerp was in a state of heightened security concerns after a mid-October crime in which a diamantaire was forced by thieves to take approximately $27 million of rough from his company’s offices while his wife was being held hostage at gunpoint in their home.

Police described the incident as a “tiger kidnapping,” a phrase denoting a two-stage crime in which the perpetrators first take a hostage and then force the hostage’s relative or associate to commit a crime. In this case, three men entered the private Antwerp home of diamantaire Prashant Bhalani and his wife, taking them hostage at gunpoint. One of the thieves held Mrs. Bhalani at home, while the others outfitted her husband, sales director of Kiran Gems, with a camera that enabled the mobsters to monitor his whereabouts. They then sent him to steal the rough in his company’s vaults. Once the goods were delivered to the hostage takers, Mrs. Bhalani was reportedly released, physically unharmed. Kiran Gems representatives refused additional comment.

Paul Van Tigchelt, spokesperson for the Antwerp prosecutor’s office, said, “We’re trying to catch those who are responsible, but at this stage it’s too early to say who they were. We can’t confirm press reports that they were from the Italian mob. However, what I can confirm is that their modus operandi was very professional.”

Protecting Weak Links
Unofficial conversations with representatives of Antwerp-based diamond companies indicate that the security level in the Diamond Mile is very high and that is the reason organized crime is searching for alternative “weak” links. “Except for protecting family members as if they were diamonds themselves, it’s almost impossible to secure homes as tightly as we do the business end,” said a source involved in the diamond center’s security. “Eventually, it all comes down to a decision that each individual must make: whether to give up the goods or to risk family lives. The answer is obvious!”

One major rough diamond dealer who wished to remain anonymous, for obvious reasons, declared that since the recent heist, his company has “changed our operation mode. The two business keys have been entrusted to different persons, and the access code is only known by a third person.” As to the difference this arrangement makes, he responded that “If they want the goods, they’ll have to wait longer until the other two people can be called, which would mean more people would have to be informed of the situation. Involving more people would not be in the thieves’ interest.”

Home Security Trickier
Caroline de Wolf, spokesperson for AWDC, said that “Security remains a strong focus for the Antwerp diamond sector and we keep working on maximizing security levels” within the square mile that is the diamond district. “However, the issue of individual home security for the diamantaires and their personnel is more complex,” she said. “We can only stress to our community members to be cautious and assist and advise them in taking adequate security measures at their homes.”

“Actually, lots of measures were taken in the past to protect the diamond sector, be it by the police, the AWDC or the City of Antwerp,” Van Tigchelt concluded. “Having said that, zero risk doesn’t exsist. The only thing I want to insist on is that people should be aware that there’s a risk. Therefore, they should be careful and not open their doors to strangers who come at night and ring their bell, which was what happened in this recent crime.”

Article from the Rapaport Magazine - November 2012. To subscribe click here.

Comment Comment Email Email Print Print Facebook Facebook Twitter Twitter Share Share
© Copyright 1978-2021 by Rapaport USA Inc. All rights reserved. Index®, RapNet®, Rapaport®, PriceGrid™, Diamonds.Net™, and JNS®; are registered TradeMarks.
While the information presented is from sources we believe reliable, we do not guarantee the accuracy or validity of any information presented by Rapaport or the views expressed by users of our internet service.