Leading diamond rating agency closes Istanbul office amid allegations of fraud

HRD Antwerp, Europe’s leading authority in diamond certification, has ended its collaboration with the Istanbul office. The move came amid allegations that the Istanbul office made billions of dollars by over-grading poor quality stones.

Duvar English

The Istanbul office of HRD Antwerp, Europe's leading authority in the grading of diamonds, has allegedly made billions of dollars by over-grading poor quality stones, daily Cumhuriyet reported on Oct. 19.

Diamonds of low quality in Turkey were allegedly given the HRD Antwerp certificate indicating that they were of good grade, and citizens paid much more than their value for these diamonds, the report said.

Upon the complaints of some citizens who realized the fraud, the officials from HRD Antwerp's headquarters in Belgium came to the Istanbul office for inspection.

On Oct. 11, the headquarters canceled the Turkey office's license, saying that customers who would like to receive service would need to contact Brussels. However, the headquarters has not taken any steps regarding the alleged multibillion-dollar strike.

Following the allegations of fraud, the HRD Antwerp headquarters issued a statement, describing the end of its collaboration with the Istanbul office as “the end of an unhappy marriage."

"For many years it was like a difficult marriage," Ellen Joncheere, CEO of HRD Antwerp, said. "We decided to split and now we're getting a divorce."

She described the claims of fraud as "fake news," without making a direct reference to the Cumhuriyet news report. 

The HRD Istanbul office also released a statement confirming the end of the collaboration, but said that it would launch “the necessary legal processes” against the headquarters' move which it described as “being unlawful.”

“The relevant agreements have been terminated by our Brussels partner. But as HRD Istanbul, we believe that this termination occurred unlawfully, which is why we have launched the necessary legal processes in Belgium,” the Istanbul office said on Oct. 19.

It also refuted the allegations of fraud, saying: “We stand behind all our certificates.”