A statement from the PJ explained that the 69-year-old man was detained for smuggling uncertified diamonds, tax fraud and money laundering.
He was arrested during a large-scale police operation named ‘Operation Kimberly Certified’, which involved 55 PJ detectives, two Public Prosecutors and a judge.
Thirteen house searches, six non-domestic property searches and two searches on lawyers offices were staged in Greater Lisbon, the Algarve and the Azores, in which a range of materials relating to the criminal activity under investigation were seized.
“The amount of the loss to the corresponding state in unpaid tax is estimated at tens of thousands of euros. Investigations are continuing with a view to collecting further evidence relating to the perpetrators”, the PJ said.
According to reports the diamonds would be smuggled into Portugal in the rough from Angola, before being sent to Antwerp, Belgium, where they were cut and polished.
Newspaper Diário de Notícias (DN) reported that the man is believed to have been part of the set up that smuggled diamonds from Angola “for many years.”
The newspaper explained that the diamonds in the rough would “usually” be brought into Portugal by “mules” on commercial flights. Angolan airline Taag and national flag carrier TAP both operate direct flights between the two countries although it has not been revealed what routes the mules took.
The diamonds would then be sent on to Antwerp where they were cut and polished and put on the international market.
To be sellable on the international market all diamonds must first be certified through the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, which was established in 2003 by the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 55/56, following recommendations in the Fowler Report to prevent ‘conflict diamonds’ from entering the mainstream rough diamond market.
The mechanism is contained in a national law that established criteria for the certification of economic agents and rules for their licensing.
Upon investigating the case DN found that the Portuguese suspect had several suppliers in Angola, who would use third parties to send the precious gems to Portugal.
In recent months PJ police identified a considerable number of people suspected of being connected to the smuggling set-up, which is comparable to a drug-smuggling ring.