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Supervisor Elham AbolFateh
Editor in Chief Mohamed Wadie

Antwerp World Diamond Centre CEO resigns amid Russia diamond sanctions


Diamond

Sun 14 Apr 2024 | 03:12 PM
Waleed Farouk

Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) chief executive Ari Epstein resigned unexpectedly, the AWDC’s board of directors said in a statement.

A spokesperson for AWDC, Belgium’s main diamond industry group, said on Friday that Epstein, who had been CEO for 13 years, did not wish to communicate about the reason for his sudden departure, but Belgian financial newspaper De Tijd reported that Russian diamond sanctions had been the cause of conflict between the diamond sector and the Belgian government.

Epstein’s tenure, characterized by visionary leadership and a commitment to innovation, has been instrumental in establishing the AWDC’s global prominence within the diamond sector. Under his stewardship, the organization has experienced unprecedented growth, solidifying its position as a leader in the global diamond trade.

However, recent scrutiny and challenges have underscored the complexities facing the AWDC. The imposition of Group of Seven (G7) sanctions on Russian diamonds has triggered repercussions, including delays at Antwerp’s Diamond Office and heightened tensions within the industry. Concerns over proposals mandating rough diamonds to pass through Antwerp for polished diamond sales within the G7 further compound the situation.

AWDC did not say who would replace Epstein as CEO.

Following an EU ban on Russian-origin diamonds that took effect on March 1, rough and polished diamonds have to enter the EU and G7 countries with documentary proof and declarations that the stones are not of Russian origin.

Antwerp’s diamond dealers have said they are facing long and costly delays as a consequence.