A statement issued by the organisation outlined it had found grading inconsistencies at its Mumbai laboratory and had banned one of its clients as a result.
“This singular incident involves a limited number of diamonds, which were submitted by one specific client at the HRD Antwerp lab in Mumbai,” the statement read.
As well as banning the client from future dealings, HRD Antwerp also filed an official complaint with the local authorities and took legal action against all parties involved “both internally and externally”.
Rapaport’s Diamonds.net reported that a Mumbai-based dealer had attempted to improve the grade of diamonds submitted by bribing three HRD Antwerp employees.
HRD Antwerp CEO Peter Macken confirmed this to Jeweller, along with reports that the client was a “one or two person” business and the three employees concerned were fired.
Macken said he was unable to disclose the names of the parties involved.
A list of the 156 certificates potentially affected by the incident was published on HRD Antwerp’s website.
A recall of the certificates was issued for a free of charge inspection. When speaking with Jeweller on 16 September, Macken said no reports had been returned to HRD Antwerp.
Swift actionAccording to the organisation’s statement, “swift action” was taken regarding the matter in order to uphold its reputation.
“Even though HRD Antwerp’s strict and uncompromising system of controls has allowed for effective and timely detection of the discrepancies, a limited number of diamonds concerned may have entered the market,” the statement added.
“HRD Antwerp strongly believes that the most effective way to strengthen consumer confidence and safeguarding the integrity of the global diamond trade is by making these acts public and by holding those who commit these acts fully accountable for their actions.”
The announcement also noted the laboratory was determined to defend the interests of the international diamond industry by continuing to evaluate and improve standards of quality, controls and integrity.
More grading fraud
Fraudulent diamond grading reports were at the centre of another incident in October 2015.
As previously reported by Jeweller, The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) invalidated 1,042 certificates – the majority of which were for diamonds originating in India – after discovering external parties had remotely hacked the organisation’s computer system to alter grading information.
One month later, HRD Antwerp made a separate announcement that a group of diamond dealers were sentenced in relation to a 2012 incident wherein they were said to have bribed an employee to inflate the colour grades on diamond certificates.
In related news, HRD Antwerp announced changes to its diamond grading and diamond jewellery reports at the Hong Kong Jewellery and Gem Fair, held from 13 September to 17 September.
The changes included the replacement of the term “certificate” with “grading report”, which was said to better comply with international terminology.
Founded in 1976, HRD Antwerp is believed to be one of the largest diamond grading laboratories in the world. Antwerp World Diamond Centre, a non-profit foundation that represents the Belgium diamond industry, is its primary shareholder.
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