Israeli police want to question Lev Leviev, the “King of Diamonds” whose among six people police detained for questioning under caution are his son, his brother and four other people who are or had been involved in his companies in Israel and Russia. Police have asked the court to extend the detention of the six suspects.
On Monday morning, police arrested six suspects on suspicion of smuggling a huge diamond to Israel worth 300 million shekels (about $80 million) and without reporting it to the tax authorities. Police raided the houses of suspects and confiscated luxury cars. The investigation units intend to arrest additional suspects in Israel and abroad, according to the police. Police claim, a state witness was recruited in the affair.
The police said that those involved “conspired, planned and removed for several years the smuggling of diamonds to the State of Israel at a value of hundreds of millions of shekels in violation of the law and without reporting to the competent authorities.”
The suspects were taken for questioning on suspicion of involvement in offenses of smuggling diamonds, money laundering, offenses under the Customs Ordinance, offenses under the Income Tax Ordinance, conspiring to commit a crime, receiving fraudulently, falsifying corporate documents and other offenses.
The investigation revealed that a worker at one of Lev Leviev’s factories in Russia allegedly smuggled a large quantity of diamonds into Israel when he arrived six years ago as a returning resident. In a raid conducted by the detectives of the International Investigations Unit on his home, hundreds of diamond-related shipping documents were found.
The lawyer of one of the suspects, attorney Jacques Chen, stated at the end of the hearing: “My client answered the questions of his interrogators and gave a version that rejected the suspicions. One issue is the role of the police to investigate and another completely different matter is the arrest of the suspects. The court did not accept the police request for a long period of detention and ordered the detention for a shorter period while criticizing the police’s statement at the end of the hearing that it would consider shortening the period of detention of any of the suspects who will cooperate with it. ”
Lev Leviev himself is currently abroad, and it is not yet clear whether he will be questioned in the affair. A source near Leviev told Haaretz he may return to Israel voluntarily for questioning.
In a statement issued by Leviev’s diamond company, LLD said: “Mr. Leviev and the companies under his control are acting in accordance with the proper norms while adhering to the law, and we hope that the matter will soon be clarified and the suspicions will prove to be baseless.”
Attorney Eyal Bessargelik, who represents one of the suspects with attorney Keren Berkowitz, told Ynet News that “these are primary suspicions that we are certain will be refuted later, and our client has no connection to the affair.” He worked with the businessman more than six years ago, We hope that the investigation will be concluded soon and our client will be able to prove that he has nothing to do with the affair and the suspicions. ” Attorney Amit Hadad, who represents another suspect, denies the allegations against his client.
Lev Leviev is a Russian-Israeli oligarch, well-known business and philanthropist. He fortunes worth $1.1 billion as of September 2016. He is the father of nine children and grandfather of grandchildren.
When his family emigrated from Uzbekistan to Israel Leviev was 15 years old. He joined his father business in the Israeli diamond industry. Over the years, after Leviev was released from military service, he began to develop his own business in the field. He first acquired a small diamond polishing factory and later, when the industry went into a spin and difficulties in the early 1980s, Leviev expanded his control of the field and became one of the main diamond suppliers in the market.
At this point, he established the Lev Leviev Diamonds Company (LLD) and for ten years branded it as Israel’s leading diamond exporter. Today, the company operates from several locations around the world.
For decades he lived in Bnei Brak. In 2007 he moved to London. Last year he moved back to Russia. Leviev owns many properties around the world. In Israel, the crowning glory – at least in terms of personal property – is the huge and luxurious villa he bought for tens of millions of shekels in Savyon.
Among other things, Leviev is the controlling shareholder and chairman of the board of the international holding and investment group Africa Israel along with his various occupations and holdings – one of his main sources of income is diamonds.