The US has charged diamond trader Nazem Ahmad with conspiring to evade sanctions and other alleged offenses.
Ahmad used a network of business entities to obtain approximately $160 million in artwork and diamond-grading services in America, the US Attorney’s Office said in a statement last week.
The US placed Ahmad under sanctions in December 2019, prohibiting him from engaging in transactions with people in the US. It alleges he is a financier for Lebanese terror group Hezbollah.
Last week, the Treasury Department announced fresh sanctions on 52 people and companies around the world that, it claimed, facilitated transactions for Ahmad’s benefit.
“The United States implemented terrorism sanctions so that terrorist organizations like Hezbollah would be cut off from the goods and services needed to fund violent acts of terrorism,” said Breon Peace, US attorney for the Eastern District of New York. “As alleged, Nazem Ahmad and his codefendants benefited from the multimillion-dollar trade in diamonds and artwork even after Ahmad was sanctioned for his involvement with a terrorist organization.”
In particular, Ahmad and the codefendants conspired to obtain grading services from a US-based organization that the statement referred to only as “Diamond Grading Company-1.” The alleged coconspirators sent approximately 482 diamond submissions — with a total weight of about 1,546 carats — to the unnamed organization following the introduction of sanctions against Ahmad.
For example, on or about March 18, 2021, an entity operating for Ahmad’s benefit shipped a diamond of around 45 carats — valued at $80 million, the statement said — to a facility of the grading company in New York, according to the allegations. The diamond was shipped back to the same entity on April 26, 2021, it continued.
Ahmad was also involved in real-estate development and the international acquisition and sale of artwork, the Attorney’s Office claimed.
Main image: A polished diamond in tweezers. (Shutterstock)