Role of Customs highlighted at the First Global Law Enforcement Forum on Diamond Trafficking

04 July 2016

With the support of Europol, INTERPOL, Dutch Police and the World Customs Organization (WCO), the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and the U.S. State Department organised the first Global Law Enforcement Forum on Diamond Trafficking, Illicit Trade and Threat Financing. Hosted by Europol at its Headquarters, the Forum took place from 28 to 30 June 2016.

The Forum gathered senior representatives of national Customs authorities, police, Financial Investigation Units (FIU), private sector stakeholders, non-governmental and intergovernmental organisations.

During the Forum it was highlighted that the reputation of the precious stones industry is the major and most important asset defining its success. Moreover, since precious stones are considered as liquid and easily movable assets, there is a high risk of the use of diamonds in trade-based money laundering and terrorist financing.

The representatives of the private sector shed light on the self-regulation and compliance mechanisms developed by the industry. The issue of the conflict diamonds and the status quo of the Kimberley Process (KP) was discussed in-depth, defining its strengths and vulnerabilities throughout the supply chains. In particular, attention was drawn to the fake KP certificates circulating in trade, corruption related to issuance of these certificates, origin and valuation challenges as well as the issues related to trans-shipment and Free Trade Zones. Forum participants, who represented all stages of the diamond value chains, benefited from each other’s knowledge as the value and supply chains were thoroughly examined ‘from mine to finger’. Specific attention was paid to supply chain anomalies and the so-called ‘red flags’ for law enforcement agencies when dealing with cases related to such high value commodities as diamonds.

During the Forum the WCO outlined some of the challenges for Customs enforcement as well as tools to support Members in their endeavors to counter illicit financial flows and smuggling.

Industry representatives also shared their concerns related to the production of the synthetic diamonds that have all the physical qualities of the natural diamonds and can be grown in the specialised laboratories in a short period of time. Due to their high quality, the market penetration by the synthetic diamonds is expected to grow and it might have in the future an impact with regards to fraud cases where consumers would be primarily hit.

Different aspects and modes of cooperation between the private sector and law enforcement agencies were discussed in order to share the good practices in this area.

On the last day of the Forum, which was open only to the representatives of the law enforcement agencies, a number of cases and experiences from both source countries and destination market countries were examined in order to have a better understanding of this type of illicit trade and its moda operandi.

At the concluding session, the participants welcomed the event as an excellent initiative and proposed to have such a Forum on a regular basis in order to build a strong network of diamond professionals and jointly tackle illicit trade in precious stones.


More information: Official press release