Antwerp’s Dutch Bank Office ABN AMRO, the clients of which are notably diamond dealers and jewelers, also appears in the recent Panama Papers. Early in 2016, the branch granted a 100-million-dollar loan to an Antwerp diamond company. With this credit, which still ran in February of this year, six “letter box’’ firms were discovered in the British Virgin Islands, report Wednesday De Tijd Knack and Le Soir.
The affair raises questions on Antwerp’s diamond dealers’ financing. Even the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, who elaborated these six tax schemes, had warned the financial supervisor of the Virgin Islands, in April 2016, that there was suspicion of money-laundering and fraud.
In-house ABN AMRO e-mails indicate, however, that the bank had not made a complete evaluation of the parties involved in the loan.
The affair is also politically sensitive. Other Belgian banks deliberately exclude diamond dealers from their client portfolio because of the risk of money-laundering. This is why the Minister of Economy Kris Peeters (CD&V) wants to force banks to deal with diamond dealers, we read in Knack and De Tijd.