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Pandora Papers: The Diamond Connection

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Rapaport News • 04-10-2021

Diamond and jewelry figures have appeared in the Pandora Papers, a leak of almost 12 million documents detailing the offshore financial activities of the wealthy.

They include Purvi Modi, sister of fugitive Indian jeweler Nirav Modi, according to a report by The Indian Express. A month before her brother fled the country, she set up a firm in the British Virgin Islands that would act as the corporate protector of a trust, the newspaper said.

Nirav Modi left India in January 2018, around a month before the media first reported allegations that he had defrauded Punjab National Bank (PNB) of $2 billion. In December 2017, Purvi Modi established Brookton Management, The Indian Express wrote, citing secret records that were released in the leak. She declared that the funds had come from her salary and personal earnings as creative director of Firestar, a US-based jewelry supplier of which Nirav Modi was the ultimate owner, it added.

Meanwhile, the revelations, which the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) released on Sunday, include a transaction by diamond magnate Beny Steinmetz, who has been the subject of a fraud probe in recent years.

According to the Pandora Papers, Steinmetz and his children transferred approximately $1 billion from a Lichtenstein-based fund to one in the Cook Islands, The Times of Israel reported. Steinmetz did not comment, the news site said.

Separately, Martin Rushwaya, Zimbabwes deputy chief secretary to the president, set up an offshore shell company called Greatgem Corp. in the Seychelles in 2010, ZimLive.com revealed, citing the same data dump. This happened around the time the Zimbabwe Defence Forces entered into a partnership with Chinese company Ankin to mine diamonds in Zimbabwes Marange fields, the newspaper said, noting that the name of the shell company points to an interest in diamonds.

The papers also provide details on Denis Sassou-Nguesso, president of the Republic of Congo, who controlled the countrys diamond mines via a company called Inter African Investment, the ICIJ said.

The Pandora Papers are the latest leak of confidential information published by the ICIJ following the Panama Papers in 2016 and the Paradise Papers in 2017.

Image: Polished diamonds. (Shutterstock)

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