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De Grisogono Files for Bankruptcy Amid Probe

Jan 29, 2020 10:32 AM   By Rapaport News
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RAPAPORT... De Grisogono has filed for bankruptcy shortly after being caught up in an alleged money-laundering scandal involving the daughter of Angola’s former president and her husband.

Last week, media reports stated Isabel dos Santos’s husband, Sindika Dokolo, bought a stake in the Swiss luxury jeweler together with Angolan national diamond-trading company Sodiam through a Malta-based shell company. Over $150 million in Angolan money was invested in De Grisogono, Bloomberg reported.

The jeweler has now filed for creditor protection following failed talks to find a buyer over the last few months. If protection is granted, De Grisogono will implement a “mass redundancy procedure” in which all 65 employees at the Swiss office will be dismissed, the jeweler said Wednesday.

“Without financial support from the current shareholders, and without a new investor, unfortunately the company cannot continue as a going concern,” De Grisogono continued.

On January 22, Angola’s prosecutor general launched an investigation into dos Santos, while an Angolan court froze local assets belonging to her and her husband. Prosecutors alleged they were complicit in illegal transactions in Angola that cost the government $1.14 billion, the Bloomberg report explained.

Dos Santos said the news stories about her were part of a political witch hunt to discredit her, and she insisted her fortune was self-made.

Rumors concerning the jeweler’s connection to dos Santos had been circulating on social media since October 2017. The Instagram account @degrisogononews was specifically set up to bring attention to the questionable diamond-trading practices attributed to dos Santos and her husband.

Following the so-called Luanda Leaks reported by The New York Times and other international publications, gemstone dealer and explorer Yianni Melas revealed he was the Instagram account owner on January 20.

Melas went on a 31-day hunger strike in November and December 2017 to protest the sale of The Art of De Grisogono, Creation I at Christie’s Geneva. The necklace featured a 163.41-carat, D-flawless center diamond sourced in Angola.

On the news of the Swiss house going into bankruptcy, Melas told Rapaport News, “[During my hunger strike,] there is a photograph of me with my hands up in the air at the Acropolis because I knew that one day this would happen.”

“I feel mixed emotion, sadness about how an amazing brand associated with beautiful jewels would lose its name, but at the same time the overwhelming feeling is that I am happy because it belonged to somebody who didn’t deserve it. And also it’s a lesson to anyone who is involved with brands which are not good that initially it appears great and beautiful but in the end justice prevails,” Melas added.

Image: A De Grisogono store on New Bond Street in London.
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Tags: @degrisogononews, De Grisogono, Isabel dos Santos, Rapaport News, Sindika Dokolo, SODIAM, Yianni Melas
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