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Diamond tycoon Lev Leviev to be questioned in smuggling case after landing in Israel

Long wanted in relation to NIS 300 million ‘Black Diamond’ probe, billionaire slapped with summons upon arriving from residence in Russia

Lev Leviev at a conference at the Renaissance Hotel in Jerusalem, September 6, 2009. (Abir Sultan/Flash90)
Lev Leviev at a conference at the Renaissance Hotel in Jerusalem, September 6, 2009. (Abir Sultan/Flash90)

Diamond magnate Lev Leviev was served with a summons by police Tuesday night upon his arrival at Ben Gurion Airport from Russia, as he is wanted for questioning in relation to the multimillion-dollar “Black Diamond” fraud investigation that began in 2018.

His arrival was coordinated with the State Attorney’s Office and he was set to be questioned by the National Fraud Unit of the police Wednesday morning, reports said.

Leviev, an Uzbekistan-born billionaire, made his fortune selling the precious stones through his company LLD Diamonds.

Authorities suspect that Leviev was involved in smuggling NIS 300 million (approximately $87 million) worth of diamonds without reporting them.

In 2018, police interrogated six suspects from his company — including Leviev’s son and brother — for alleged tax fraud and smuggling of diamonds after a suspect was stopped at Ben Gurion carrying a diamond worth NIS 1 million ($270,000) earlier that year.

Police had sought to bring Leviev to Israel for questioning at the time, and briefly considered extraditing him from Russia, where he was residing. They later rejected the terms Leviev’s lawyers proposed for his questioning in Israel.

Three suspects arrested in connection with a diamond smuggling scheme arrive for a court hearing at the Magistrate’s Court in Rishon Letzion, November 7, 2018. (Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)

The investigation, handled by the Lahav 433 serious crime unit, found that a second man, who had been living abroad, entered the country in 2012 with diamonds concealed in his luggage, police said. Investigators who raided his home found hundreds of diamond-related shipping certificates.

The investigation was completed and charges of tax offenses and money laundering were being prepared against the suspects questioned in 2018, Channel 12 reported.

Also in 2018, Mazal Hadadi, a bookkeeper with Leviev’s diamond firm LLD who was also being investigated in the probe, died after jumping from the 10th floor of the Diamond Exchange Building in Ramat Gan in an apparent suicide. An investigation in 2019 ruled out suspicions of foul play in the incident.

Shimon Hayut, also known as the “Tinder Swindler,” posed as a son of the diamond tycoon while defrauding women across Europe to fund a lavish lifestyle and was featured in a Netflix documentary of the same name. Leviev’s children sued the fraudster in March.

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