A mere hour and 20 minutes passed between the time an employee of Lev Leviev’s diamond company LLD fell to her death from the company’s Ramat Gan offices and the company announced to the press that she had committed suicide due to pressure by police investigating the firm for alleged smuggling.
She died around 4:30 on Tuesday afternoon. At 5:50, the LLD investigative committee, headed by the communications experts, released their conclusions.
Police suspect that Leviev and his employees used smugglers to bring diamonds into Israel for decades without declaring them in accordance with the law. In the course of 16 years, they are thought to have smuggled in 300 million shekels in diamonds.
According to LLD’s accusations, the employee committed suicide after the police committed a gross violation of her rights. This claim comes from statements of her colleagues, who said that she was under emotional stress after being questioned by police, and said cops had told her “this whole case will fall on you.”
The woman, a 43-year-old married mother of three, was not a particularly senior employee. She worked in LLD’s account management department and took home a mere 6,000 shekels a month, according to LLD.
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Currently it’s not clear whether the woman was questioned under caution. She was questioned by the police’s international investigations department in Lod for about two hours, but it’s not known whether police told her she may face charges. The police took several hours to formulate a response, but declined to give details about the employee’s questioning. The police spokesman’s office limited itself to saying that LLD’s release contained “inaccuracies.”
Both sides agree that the employee was not held in remand, or kept in a cell overnight, and therefore was not subjected to any of the police’s more questionable techniques, such as meeting an informant in the cell.
The claim that the police violated the woman’s rights is based on the fact that the woman never spoke with a lawyer. However, it’s not clear that she asked to, or that any lawyer was turned away. Another defendant in the LLD case did indeed face such a predicament, leading Rishon Letzion District Court Judge Guy Avnon to sharply criticize the police’s conduct.
While it’s possible the woman committed suicide due to police conduct, it could just as easily be that she took her life due to pressure from the company.
Meanwhile, the central suspect, Lev Leviev himself, has been in Russia since the affair broke.
While the motivation for the suspected smuggling is not known, one possibility is that Leviev and accomplices were allegedly trying to evade taxes or regulations in the countries where the diamonds were being mined, including Russia.
Leviev has apparently been preparing for months to face an investigation. Months before the investigation became public, he left his residence in the United Kingdom and entered Russia, where he has lots of associates in power. The day the affair broke, he already had three top attorneys and a PR firm working for him.
His team has been negotiating with police in an attempt to have them question him without arresting him.
In fact, nearly all of Israel’s diamond bourse knew about the investigation in advance. The state’s witness in the affair told a group of diamond merchants before it was public, said the attorney of Leviev’s son Zvulun Leviev.