By Michelle Graff
Antwerp--An Antwerp law enforcement official who has been spearheading investigations into wrongdoing in the diamond industry for more than a decade now finds himself on the other side of the law.

Agim De Bruycker, a commissioner of the Antwerp Federal Judicial Police and head of its “Diamond Squad,” the unit charged with investigating fraud, money laundering, theft and other crimes in the diamond trading center, was arrested last week and is being held on suspicion of money laundering.

In addition, both the national press agency Belga and a public prosecutor’s office in Antwerp confirmed that a second suspect, described only as 57-year-old Antwerp diamond merchant, was arrested Tuesday, also on charges of money laundering. He too remains in custody. 

According to Belga, the investigation into the 46-year-old police commissioner began in January following a couple “suspicious” cash transactions; news agencies have reported that officials became wary of De Bruycker after he purchased a villa and a Range Rover.

A search of his home turned up gold and diamonds reportedly worth more than $500,000. The following morning, the commission that supervises the police also searched the offices of the federal police in Antwerp.

Paul Van Tigchelt, a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office, said Tuesday that there are no indications at this time that other police officials were involved.

He also rebuffed reports in the Antwerp newspapers that called De Bruycker’s arrest a “deathblow” to the fight against fraud in the diamond industry. The fight “depends not on one man and the daily operation of the service will be continued,” he said.

The Antwerp World Diamond Center, the umbrella organization that works to serve, support and promote the diamond industry in Antwerp, refused to comment on De Bruycker’s arrest, saying only that “This is a matter for the police and judicial authorities.”

De Bruycker has been head of the Diamond Squad since its establishment in 2000.

He’s investigated a number of high-profile cases over the years, including the multi-million heist at the Brussels airport in 2013; the parcel of hundreds of undisclosed synthetic diamonds that surfaced at the International Gemological Institute in Antwerp in 2012; and, more recently, the HSBC money laundering and tax evasion scandal, in which thousands of people connected to the diamond trade were implicated.

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