By Michelle Graff
Antwerp—India’s ICICI Bank has reportedly become the latest bank to pull back from financing the mid-stream sector of the diamond trade.

On Dec. 28, industry analyst Edahn Golan shared via Twitter a letter to the bank’s clients informing them that the Antwerp branch of ICICI Bank UK PLC would be shutting down on March 29.

Clients were advised to close their accounts on or before Feb. 28.

ICICI Bank UK PLC is a wholly owned subsidiary of India’s ICICI Bank Ltd., a large private sector bank headquartered in Mumbai.

An ICICI Bank spokesperson sent the following statement to National Jeweler on Monday: “Following a strategic review of its business operations in Belgium, ICICI Bank UK PLC has decided to close its branch in Antwerp, Belgium. The closure will be effected from March 29, 2019.”

ICICI Bank’s decision to close its Antwerp branch makes it the latest in a line of lenders pulling out of the mid-stream sector of the diamond industry, and it comes not too longer after another Indian bank, Union Bank, announced plans to close its Antwerp branch.

As Golan noted on Twitter, the departure of ICICI from Antwerp will mostly hurt traders from India, which is still feeling the aftershocks of the $2 billion bank fraud allegedly perpetrated by diamantaire Nirav Modi and his uncle, Gitanjali top boss Mehul Choksi.

Golan referred to the Modi scandal as a “rude awakening” for the Indian banking sector, while a banker interviewed by National Jeweler last February, shortly after reports of the scam first started surfacing overseas, noted the long-term damage the scandal is going to have for diamond industry financing, not just in India but worldwide.

“When you put bankers off of an industry, it’s going to take a while, at least a couple of decades,” to get them back on board, he said. “Somebody has to figure out how to make these [diamond] companies transparent, truly transparent, how to adopt it and how to test themselves.”

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