Fugitive Indian diamond merchant Mehul Choksi, a co-accused in the $2-billion Punjab National Bank fraud case along with his nephew Nirav Modi, had obtained an Antiguan citizenship in November last year before the scam broke out. 

Choksi is not alone in running away to Antigua and Barbuda. Data analysed by TOI reveals that 28 Indians have applied for the citizenship of the Caribbean nation since 2014. Seven of these were granted the hassle-free Antiguan nationality between January 1 and June 30, 2017 itself, upon investment of $2,00,000, according to the half-yearly report of Citizenship by Investment Unit (CIU), which comes under Antigua’s ministry of finance and corporate governance and public private partnerships. 

Why are the Caribbean countries a safe refuge for corporate fugitives?

Easy citizenship for the rich 

Antigua and Barbuda allows dual citizenship to foreigners if they invest in the National Development Fund (NDF), purchase government-approved real estate, or invest in a pre-approved business. To get an Antigua and Barbuda passport, Choksi would just have had to pay a minimum of $200,000 (Rs 1.3 crore) as a contribution to the Antigua NDF, or make an .. 

Indians constitute 2.5% of citizenships out of total 1,121 foreign nationals who have sought refuge in the island since inception of this programme. The list is dominated by China – with total 478 Chinese nationals (42.64%) applying for Caribbean nation’s citizenship since 2014. 

The fugitives or runaway businessmen flush with money made through scams can easily afford to buy citizenship in the Caribbean countries. 

Other Caribbean countries 

Anyone with enough cash can also buy a passport for St Kitts and Nevis and have it within four months. All they have to do is to make a $150,000 (Rs 1.03 crore) contribution to the St. Kitts Sustainable Growth Fund or a $200,000 (Rs 1.3 crore) investment in a government real estate project. 

Once they have that passport there are 141 countries you can enter visa-free, including the UK and India. Those looking for a low-cost option can consider Dominica where an applicant can get irrevocable second citizenship and passport, with no visit to the country or even physical residency required, for just $100,000. All they have to do is to make a $100,000 (Rs 68 lakh) contribution to the Dominica Government Fund or spend $200,000 (Rs 1.3 crore) on real estate there. St. Lucia and Grenada too has similar laws on citizenship. 

Perks that come with the citizenship 

The citizenship is not just easy to get but also comes with some highly valued perks. With his Antiguan passport, Choksi can enjoy visa-free travel to approximately 132 countries, including the UK and all the countries of the Schengen area. He does not even need to live in Antigua and only needs to spend five days there in five years to retain his citizenship. Most Caribbean countries allow dual citizenship which keeps the door back home open for businesspersons being tried for crimes. Those who fear international sanctions against their own countries can save their business interests buying Caribbean citizenship. 

Super ease of doing business 

The Caribbean countries offer not just citizenship for money, they also promise a an easy and lax environment to conduct business. For example, most of these countries impose no direct income tax. Many also don't inheritance, capital gains and dividend income. A tax-free business environment also pulls in a lot of regular businesspersons who are not running away from the law in their own countries.

If you’re out there looking for the best diamond for your money from an Antwerp Diamond Seller, then please contact diamant-anvers.com and let them know your budget and what you’re looking for. They sift through thousands of diamonds and send you suggested stones to choose from that fit your needs the best.


Diamantkwartier

The Antwerp Diamond Quarter


The Antwerp Diamond Quarter (Diamantkwartier) is perhaps the oldest, most storied, diamond district in the world. Long before New York, Hong Kong and Hatton Gardens came on the scenes, Antwerp was cutting and trading diamonds for export and local trade. Antwerp took over as the main European diamond center from Bruges in the 16th century (along with many other import trades). 

During the 17th century, Amsterdam took over as the leader for a while, but Antwerp retook the mantel during the 19th century developing relationships with the miners in the newfound diamond trade of South Africa. Today the Antwerp diamond market has been in decline but it is still one of the top 5 biggest diamonds markets in the world.

What to Be Aware Of When Buying Antwerp Diamonds: 


There are some tricks that jewelers may use and you must know these tricks in order to avoid falling victim, virtually all of these tricks prey on the fact that consumers aren’t educated enough about buying diamonds.

1. Treated Diamonds


This is a problem sometimes with a few bad Antwerp Diamond sellers. A treated diamond is nothing like a natural diamond and the prices cannot be compared. If you are buying a diamond it should not be treated.

2. Non-certified Diamonds


This is also problem with some customers who are sold non certified diamonds, when buying from a diamond seller in Antwerp always buy only certified diamonds. 

3. Bad Prices


One of our website users wrote to us about trying to find a good diamond in the Antwerp diamond district: 

"It is hard for me lately to find a place that use GIA certified diamonds that are non-treated and I feel that many of the diamond sellers today over-price their diamonds and sell lower quality stones." 

We were very sad to hear that this buyer had this kinds of experience and want to help our website users only get the best prices and quality from Antwerp diamond sellers that they are dealing with.

If you know how to be aware of these kinds of tricks and use a trusted Antwerp diamond seller (also known as Diamantaire Anvers) you should not have any problems with getting the best diamond for your money.
RAMAT GAN, Israel (Reuters) - Israel’s diamond exchange is turning to digital currencies to inject new life into a marketplace long ruled by cash and backroom handshakes, but it must first persuade traditionally conservative players that the technology can work.

One of the world’s largest diamond centers, the exchange hopes its virtual currency will make trading more efficient and less opaque. Current transactions are “often carried out anonymously, with the shake of a hand and minimal documentation”, according to a recent report by Israel’s Justice Ministry. That murkiness has led the FBI and Europol to target the trade as a vehicle for money laundering and crime financing. Narrow profit margins between rough and polished gems make it hard for polishers to get financing, and banks have cut back lending or pulled out entirely. Backers of the digital currency program believe it will help address those issues. 

“We foresee alignment behind this currency because it’s going to make things easy,” Eli Avidar, managing director of the exchange, told Reuters in an interview. “This industry is facing challenges, and this is going to in a lot of aspects address those challenges ... the profitability element of the business, the speed of doing business, money laundering aspects and the problematic elements of banking nowadays,” he said. The exchange is planning to launch two coins. 

The first, to be known as the Cut, will be available only to dealers on a peer-to-peer basis. Traders from around the world will receive digital wallets after being vetted by the exchange, similar to today’s background checks. Each transaction will be verified in a matter of minutes and be available to the public on blockchain - a digital ledger maintained by a random group of peers - but the identity of who owns what will be kept private. The exchange can provide that information to regulators upon official request.

Difficult Transfers


The Cut could solve increasing problems moving money between traders and retailers, one mid-size diamond dealer said. “Transfers of money have become increasingly difficult. With banking regulation, even the smallest move becomes complicated. It can take days,” said the dealer, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the process. “Buyers don’t want to give the money till they get the stone, and sellers don’t want to give the stone till they get the money.” 

He wanted to see how it will be regulated, however, which may take some time, given that the coins are being launched without any government regulation in place, as is typical in the cryptocurrency world. Bitcoin, the original cryptocurrency, has lost 70 percent of its value from its peak in December partly because of market concerns about a global regulatory clampdown. Many bitcoin backers say regulation should be welcomed.


A spokeswoman for the Economy Ministry, which oversees the diamond trade, says there has been no in-depth discussion yet on how the coins would be regulated. Presale of the Cut went live at the International Diamond Week that started on Monday. The coins should enter into use within a few weeks, said Avishai Shoushan, CEO of the year-old CARATS.IO, which created the coins for the exchange. The coin is based on an index using 14 parameters, compared with just four characteristics used to price physical diamonds. 

Price is determined by an algorithm, because whereas gold is priced by the ounce or oil by the barrel, for example, diamonds are priced individually since each diamond is so different from the next. A second coin, Carat, will be issued later and is meant for institutional and retail investors who want to invest in the diamond market without taking possession of physical diamonds. “We are creating a way for people to invest in the market without actually buying and selling diamonds,” Shoushan said.

A quarter of the market value of both coins will be backed by diamonds held by a third party. All this, he said, should make the tokens “much less volatile compared to any other cryptocurrency.”

High Security


In the high security four-tower complex on the outskirts of Tel Aviv, $23 billion changed hands between local and foreign traders in 2017. The area is known as the diamond district, and visitors coming by train access it across Diamonds Bridge. Visitors are fingerprinted before they can enter the buildings and look down on the world’s largest trading floor. Should a diamond go missing, the entire complex locks down. Israel’s diamond district is full of polishers who specialize in large, high-end diamonds. 

The country cannot compete in smaller stones with massive operations in India and China. The trade by nature is global. The State Bank of India has a branch beside the exchange. Israel’s diamond exports in 2017 fell 12 percent to $15.5 billion. Consultancy Bain said in a 2017 industry review that diamond jewelry sales, which according to De Beers hovered at $80 billion in 2016, were “stagnant”. Slowing long-term demand and the shaky financial position of polishers are two big concerns, it said. Martin Rapaport, chairman of the highly influential Rapaport Group whose diamond price list is a global industry benchmark, has a big presence in Israel and may have to compete with the new system. 

He applauded the effort to expand diamond demand, but told Reuters he thought cryptocurrencies were “a bit of a fad” and is unsure of their sustainability. “Diamonds have an inherent value and that inherent value has been around for centuries. Whether or not you can take that and hype it into something modern and something interesting like a cryptocurrency is highly questionable,” he said.

A former Miami postal carrier will soon stand trial on allegations he suckered coworkers and customers along his route into paying him over $4 million — by promising fantastic riches from gold and diamond mines in Africa. And now he’s also suspected in a scam sale of the most famous comic book ever. Prosecutors on Tuesday revealed that Lawyer Stanley is also being accused of stealing thousands of dollars from an elderly veteran who was promised a copy of Action Comics No. 1, the legendary 1938 debut of Superman. The comic is considered the most valuable in history. One copy sold for $3.2 million three years ago. Stanley, Miami-Dade prosecutors said, promised a copy for only $24,000. The would-be collector — who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder from his service in the Vietnam War — paid Stanley $12,000 last fall, a detective told the judge.

Lawyer Stanley, a former U.S. post officer letter carrier, is accused of bilking South Florida investors of millions of dollars.
“He reels them in with lies and false promises,” Miami prosecutor Mary Ernst told a judge Tuesday, asking that Stanley’s bail be revoked. She added: “He never provided the comic book. He provided a series of excuses.” His defense lawyer, Vincent Duffy, dismissed the allegations — saying there was no agreement on when the comic book was to be delivered. “It’s a personal vendetta at this point,” Duffy said of the new allegations.

Stanley, 59, hasn’t been charged yet in the comic-book episode, so Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Eric Hendon allowed him to remain free from jail. Stanley was slated to go to trial next week, but it was delayed until at least March. Stanley, who worked as a South Florida letter carrier for decades, also ran companies on the side called Africa World Trade and the Lena Mae Foundation. For seven years, prosecutors say, Stanley duped more than 30 investors, portraying himself as a mover and shaker in African industries, all while spending their investment money on his own mortgage payments, car rentals, groceries, entertainment and airline tickets. “Stanley told investors that he traveled to Africa to gold and diamond mines to get the ‘best stones,’ which he then imported to the United States and sold in New York,” Florida Bureau of Financial Investigations Detective Neptime Dieujuste wrote in his arrest warrant.

Stanley introduced people to his purported jeweler, promised to double investments and flashed documents that showed he had tens of millions in African banks, prosecutors said. To at least one investor, Stanley claimed he had contracts to build a port in Cameroon and a “power grid for 50,000 in Equatorial Guinea,” the warrant said. His charm worked. One man, Charles Edward Floyd, was promised a 10 to 20 percent return on his investment. 

Within 10 days. Floyd emptied out his retirement and savings account to the tune of $250,000, according to the state. As months dragged on, the man finally confronted Stanley, who “continued to make excuses, stating, that the people he dealt with in Nigeria and Ghana needed fees to release Floyd’s investment funds.” “To this date, Floyd has not been paid back by Stanley,” the warrant said. Another victim, fellow postal employee Stacey Hill, forked over $56,000 to “close on a diamond deal” – and was later asked for money to pay off an African judge who was supposedly delaying his funds. 

“My brother you about to get an incredible blessing ... just confirm the check account information, Stacey I love you like a brother,” Stanley allegedly wrote. Prosecutors say he even duped Lambert Baptiste, a hotel developer in the Saint Vincent and the Grenadines islands. Baptiste needed a construction loan and was convinced to invest $69,000 with Stanley — with the promise the money would be returned and a bank would also hand over the half-a-million loan. When the money vanished for months, Stanley “threatened to shoot or call the police if Baptiste ever showed up at his residence to collect his money,” the warrant said. Another victim was Lynn Washington, a formerly well-known Miami lawyer who himself served three years in prison for stealing funds intended to help troubled inner-city neighborhoods. Prosecutors said Washington gave Stanley $250,000 for “commodities investments in Africa.”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 2017-185


Washington D.C., Sept. 29, 2017 – The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged a businessman and two companies with defrauding investors in a pair of so-called initial coin offerings (ICOs) purportedly backed by investments in real estate and diamonds.

Maksim Zaslavskiy – CEO, Founder of REcoin


The SEC alleges that Maksim Zaslavskiy and his companies have been selling unregistered securities, and the digital tokens or coins being peddled don’t really exist. According to the SEC’s complaint, investors in REcoin Group Foundation and DRC World (also known as Diamond Reserve Club) have been told they can expect sizeable returns from the companies’ operations when neither has any real operations.


REcoin Team (from foundico.com)


Zaslavskiy allegedly touted REcoin as “The First Ever Cryptocurrency Backed by Real Estate.” Alleged misstatements to REcoin investors included that the company had a “team of lawyers, professionals, brokers, and accountants” that would invest REcoin’s ICO proceeds into real estate when in fact none had been hired or even consulted. Zaslavskiy and REcoin allegedly misrepresented they had raised between $2 million and $4 million from investors when the actual amount is approximately $300,000.

 

The SEC alleges that Zaslavskiy and Diamond have not purchased any diamonds nor engaged in any business operations. Yet they allegedly continue to solicit investors and raise funds as though they have.

According to the SEC’s complaint, Zaslavskiy carried his scheme over to Diamond Reserve Club, which purportedly invests in diamonds and obtains discounts with product retailers for individuals who purchase “memberships” in the company. Despite their representations to investors, the SEC alleges that Zaslavskiy and Diamond have not purchased any diamonds nor engaged in any business operations. Yet they allegedly continue to solicit investors and raise funds as though they have.

The SEC obtained an emergency court order to freeze the assets of Zaslavskiy and his companies.

The SEC’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy recently issued an investor alert warning about the risks of ICOs.

.Federal district court in Brooklyn, N.Y

“Investors should be wary of companies touting ICOs as a way to generate outsized returns,” said Andrew M. Calamari, Director of the SEC’s New York Regional Office. “As alleged in our complaint, Zaslavskiy lured investors with false promises of sizeable returns from novel technology.” The SEC’s complaint, filed in federal district court in Brooklyn, N.Y., charges Zaslavskiy, REcoin, and Diamond with violations of the anti-fraud and registration provisions of the federal securities laws. The complaint seeks permanent injunctions and disgorgement plus interest and penalties. For Zaslavskiy, the SEC also seeks an officer-and-director bar and a bar from participating in any offering of digital securities. The SEC’s investigation, which is continuing, has been conducted by Jorge Tenreiro, Pamela Sawhney and Valerie A. Szczepanik. The case is being supervised by Lara S. Mehraban. The SEC encourages victims of the alleged fraud to contact Ms. Szczepanik at (212) 336-1100.


A London diamond broker targeting vulnerable investors and mis-selling them fancy coloured diamonds for investment at inflated prices has been ordered into liquidation following a petition presented by the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills to wind up the company on grounds of public interest.

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The petition was issued following confidential enquiries carried out by Company Investigations, part of the Insolvency Service, under section 447 of the Companies Act 1985, as amended.

CDX Worldwide Ltd trading as the Coloured Diamond Exchange claimed to sell the most sought after investment grade stones in the world and that

its mission was to provide investment opportunities which have been largely unavailable to private investors” and how “prices have gone in only one direction – upwards, at approximately 15-25 per cent year on year.

The company rented virtual office services at 1 Royal Exchange Avenue, London, EC3V 3LT and operated a website www.coloureddiamondexchange.com.

The ‘contact us’ section of the former website directed people to a company having a similar name registered in the United Arab Emirates.

The Court heard how fancy coloured diamonds were marketed and sold to the public as an investment opportunity using cold calling techniques. In some instances investors were falsely told that the company had been trading for over ten years, that it was FSA/FCA registered and “was part of the Royal Exchange”.

The company’s sole recorded officer, James Gilkes, informed the investigation that the company’s day to day business was outsourced to a marketing company run by a Sean McDermott but was either unable or unwilling to provide any details of the marketing company other than it was based in Dubai.

Investors were sold coloured diamonds for investment at mark ups of over 550% but afterwards were unable to make further contact with the company.

Welcoming the Court’s winding up decision Chris Mayhew, Company Investigations Supervisor, said:

This pressured sales operation was yet another scam outfit making false and misleading statements to persuade people to make near worthless investments.

We all need to be more cynical when it comes to the representations made by these pernicious schemes – today the Royal Exchange in the City of London is a retail and office centre, not a commodities exchange as falsely held out to vulnerable investors who were persistently and aggressively targeted by this company and callously deprived of their savings for the benefit of those behind its dishonest activities.

We work closely with a number of partners to prevent unscrupulous companies fleecing the vulnerable and the Insolvency Service will continue to investigate and bring to a halt the activities of companies harming or about to harm the public by operating in this way.
Notes to Editors:

CDX Worldwide Ltd (company registration number 08239679) was incorporated on 04 October 2012. The registered offices of the company have been:

  • Lansdowne House, City Forum, 250 City Road, London, EC1V 2PU from incorporation to 29 November 2013
  • 40 Gracechurch Street, Iplan, London, EC3V OBT from 29 November 2013 to 15 December 2014
  • 48 High Town Road, Luton, Befordshire, LU2 ODE from 15 December 2014 to present date

The sole recorded director of the company throughout is shown to have been James Alexander Gilkes. No company secretary is shown to have been appointed.

Mr Gilkes is shown to be the sole £1 ordinary shareholder of the company.

Abbreviated unaudited accounts shown to be approved by Mr Gilkes for the year ending 31 October 2014 report total assets of £13,021 (previous year £117,045); creditors of £19,487 (previous year £63,061) and a loss for the year of £60,450 (previous year profit £53,984).

The company’s former website www.coloureddiamondexchange.com contained spelling mistakes and the page “What are fancy coloured diamonds” was identical to other broker companies including Adamus Compendium Ltd (company number 07896423) which was placed into voluntary liquidation on 18 February 2015 having a reported deficiency of £6,428 with Nedim Ailan of 142-148 Main Road, Sidcup, Kent, DA1 6NZ appointed liquidator.

The petition to wind up CDX Worldwide Ltd in the public interest was presented in the High Court on 4 December 2015.

The public interest grounds for winding up the company were its lack of commercial probity by participating in a wider scheme involving the sale of fancy coloured diamonds to the public for investment and making false and unfounded statements, its lack of transparency, and abandonment.

In ordering the company into liquidation on grounds of public interest on 9 March 2016 Mr Chief Registrar Baister said:


"… there has been no response by the company to the petition which is unopposed … one of the grounds alleged by the Secretary of State is a lack of commercial probity … essentially this concerns a well known method of taking money from members of the public … such investments never seem to realise a profit … other grounds relied upon are a lack of transparency and abandonment … the director of the company, Mr Gilkes, professes to have very limited knowledge of the company’s affairs … put bluntly he looks as though he was a stooge … the abandonment and lack of clarity is exacerbated by Mr Gilkes coming out of his role as a stooge to make an application to strike off the company at Companies House … the evidence shows that unfounded and misleading statements have been made to persuade people to invest … the available records show there were 77 sales to 49 individual investors totalling just over £1.2 million … the website contained the usual puffs about the quality of the diamonds being marketed …. an important representation made was that each and every diamond could be seen in the market as a good and rising long term investment … and much more in that vein … the petition is unopposed and it is sufficient for me to refer to paragraph 24 of the petition which summarises the objectionable statements made … the information investors provided appears to confirm that the company never actually achieved a success in selling any of the diamonds on behalf of investors … so the extravagant claims made have not been made good … there are all the usual complaints I’m afraid of the type of business this is … plainly it is right that the company should be wound up and I do so order."

Company Investigations, part of the Insolvency Service, uses powers under the Companies Act 1985 to conduct confidential fact-finding investigations into the activities of live limited companies in the UK on behalf of the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS). Further information about live company investigations is available.

The London Diamond Bourse has published consumer advice developed with the Insolvency Service with the objective of preventing the public falling foul of “boiler room” scams purporting to sell highly lucrative investment diamonds. The advice can be found in the public area of the London Diamond Bourse website.

The Insolvency Service administers the insolvency regime, investigating all compulsory liquidations and individual insolvencies (bankruptcies) through the Official Receiver to establish why they became insolvent. It may also use powers under the Companies Act 1985 to conduct confidential fact-finding investigations into the activities of live limited companies in the UK. In addition, the agency authorises and regulates the insolvency profession, deals with disqualification of directors in corporate failures, assesses and pays statutory entitlement to redundancy payments when an employer cannot or will not pay employees, provides banking and investment services for bankruptcy and liquidation estate funds and advises ministers and other government departments on insolvency law and practice. Further information about the work of the Insolvency Service, and how to complain about financial misconduct, is available.

By virtue of the appointment of the Official Receiver all public enquiries concerning the affairs of the company should be made to: The Official Receiver, Public Interest Unit, 4 Abbey Orchard Street, London, SW1P 2HT. Telephone: 0207 637 1110 Email: piu.or@insolvency.gsi.gov.uk.
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