Dispute in Leviev Group Over Alleged Namibian Gem Swap

Channel 2 investigative program alleges former Lev Leviev Diamonds manager stole high-quality Namibian diamonds and replaced them with poor ones.

An investigative program to be aired Thursday night tells the story of a dispute in the Lev Leviev Group. Lev Leviev Diamonds says it suspects a former manager stole high-quality Namibian diamonds and replaced them with poor ones, leading to a police raid on the company's offices in Namibia and the confiscation of 2,140 carats of diamonds in January.

The official, LLD manager Gabi Shitrit, retorted to Channel 2 investigative reporters Ilana Dayan and Roni Zinger that a number of diamonds did go missing, but as part of a cross-continent mistake.

leviev - Ofer Vaknin - November 17 2011
Ofer Vaknin

Leviev sources say Shitrit disappeared from Namibia after the raid and they have not had contact with him since. Shitrit had been fired and fled Namibia, an LLD spokeswoman said, and the firm is working with the Namibian police to clear up the affair.

Shitrit, who has worked for Leviev for 20 years, claims the LLD plant in Namibia sent six boxes of diamonds (allocated to Leviev by the Namibian government ) to Israel for evaluation late last year.

They were to return to Namibia for polishing. But the export documents with the boxes listed only two, so four boxes reached Israel without documentation.

When the mistake was discovered in Israel, says Shitrit, he wanted to advise the Namibian authorities but Leviev's people didn't reply.

The plant went on Christmas break and he went to Israel. Upon his return to Namibia, he learned the authorities would be auditing LLD. Shitrit claims a manager in Israel sent a courier to Namibia with stones to make up the difference, but when he opened the package he found they weren't the same stones that had sent and were of very poor quality.

Shitrit admits to faking information for the Namibian audit but "all the company's people knew," he claims on the TV show "Uvda." The police seized the diamonds on suspicion that they weren't Namibian in origin.

The show claims that minutes after the raid, Shitrit got a call from Leviev's people in Moscow, telling him to leave Namibia immediately, and if caught, to say the stones were Namibian. He left for Israel.

Leviev's people told him to disappear, according to the show.

A Leviev spokeswoman said the group has had to contend with lies by dubious figures and the Uvda show is merely a recycled story for reasons that are unclear.