Israel Police may seek billionaire’s extradition for diamond scam

The police said they will try to promote a joint investigation with the Russians, “as it is also in their interest.”

By Jack Gold, World Israel News

Israel Police investigators are considering requesting that Russia extradite billionaire businessman Lev Leviev, who has been implicated in the Yahalom Shachor (black diamond) affair, a multi-million illegal smuggling operation of diamonds into the country in recent years.

The affair was revealed Monday after six suspects were arrested in a suspected mass diamond smuggling operation into Israel.

The investigation revealed that a worker at one of Leviev’s factories in Russia smuggled a large number of diamonds worth millions of shekels to Israel when he arrived six years ago as a returning resident.

It is believed that the diamonds were sold in Israel without being reported to the tax authorities. In a raid conducted by detectives of the International Investigations Unit on the suspect’s home, hundreds of diamond-related shipping documents were found.

The suspects could be charged with diamond smuggling, money laundering, tax offenses and conspiracy to commit a crime, filing false business reports, and other offenses.

Leviev’s associates have already announced that he has no intention of returning to the country in the near future and that if police wish to interrogate him, they will have to travel abroad.

According to a report in Yedioth Ahronoth, the police have various orders allowing them to confiscate Leviev’s property as well as a warrant for his arrest if he returns to Israel. They will first try to conduct their investigation abroad, the report said.

The LLD Company, owned by Leviev, stated that it “has no knowledge of the incident reported in the media. Mr. Leviev and the companies under his control act in accordance with the proper norms and in compliance with the law. We hope that the matter will soon be clarified and the suspicions will prove baseless.”

Kan News reported that police investigators say that the trail in this scam leads to Leviev, who is the main benefactor of the sting. If he were in Israel now, he would have been arrested, they said.

The court on Monday extended the remand of the suspects currently in custody, including Leviev’s son and brother. In his decision, the judge wrote that the evidence points to a reasonable suspicion regarding each of the suspects.

The police said they will try to promote a joint investigation with the Russians, “as it is also in their interest.”