Diamond Dealers Cling to the Old Days – by Thomas Biesheuvel and Franz Wild (Bloomberg News – September 28, 2017)


Ashit Mehta was stunned. Without notice, the representatives of Dutch bank ABN Amro marched into the offices of his global diamond empire, confiscated $150 million of rocks, locked them in a vault and left with the key.

What began on that overcast December day in 2012 turned out to be just the start of the problems for the secretive family-run diamond trading houses that have defined the Belgian city of Antwerp for centuries.

They make up the invisible link between African mines and jewelry stores in New York, London and Hong Kong, and are being squeezed like rarely before. The banks whose loans they relied on to buy gems are pulling out of a business they no longer think is worth the risk in the post-financial crisis age of increased regulation and scrutiny.

Mehta managed to switch to another lender after his brush with disaster, but now it too wants out. He’s adamant he can overcome anything. “I’m not the person to run away,” said Mehta. “This business made me what I am.”

It’s a corner of global commerce that’s been barely touched by any corporate machine. There are no 21st century compliance departments, paper trails or investors to answer to. But the antiquated world is being upended.

For the rest of this article: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-09-28/diamond-dealers-cling-to-the-old-days