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Omega Whistleblower Appeals Plea Deal in Antwerp

Jan 7, 2015 1:02 PM   By Marc Goldstein
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RAPAPORT...  In the wake of the record $2.7 billion (EUR 2.28 billion) case that involved, mainly, Omega Diamonds for allegedly importing diamonds from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Angola between 2003 and 2008, via Dubai and Geneva, with false invoices and counterfeit certificates, David Renous, the original whistleblower,  appealed a settlement.

The Brussels Times confirmed that “Renous has appealed against the plea deal of EUR 160 million that was agreed between the Antwerp prosecutor’s office, the Special Tax Inspection Office and the 10 suspects in the case. His revelations were what started the judicial inquiry into the operations of Antwerp diamond company Omega Diamonds.”

Accordingly, the grand jury confirmed a settlement  in December and authorities were reimbursed for outstanding tax debt plus interest and fines. But it declined  Renous' civil action, calling it inadmissible. Renous stated that the plea deal had already been signed when he initiated his a civil lawsuit, making it impossible for him and his lawyer to access certain files to prove his case.

On Monday, January 5,  Renous' lawyer, Jos Vander Velpen, stressed that the appeal would reveal elements of the case that couldn't be discovered and disclosed earlier, insisting that his client, although a key element in the discovery process, was never even questioned as "a victim."

Renous said, “My first goal would be to make sure that whistleblowers would be recognized, would have a statute and would have rights. So far, it's because of the lack of statute that I was not recognized as a victim by the prosecutor's office. This must change.”

To complicate matters,  while the plea deal was being negotiated with the Special Tax Inspection Office, a trial at the Antwerp Correctional court was brought by Customs and Excise against Omega claiming an amount of $5.4 billion (EUR 4.6 billion).

Tags: Antwerp, court, imports, legal, Marc Goldstein, omega diamonds, tax, whistleblower
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