Friday, March 9, 2018

Antwerp ABN AMRO Bank Diamond Heist: Stolen Identity, Stolen Diamonds


Summary: The Antwerp ABN AMRO Bank diamond heist in Belgium March 2-5, 2007, remains unsolved since stolen diamonds reveal a stolen identity and a stolen passport.


Beurs voor Diamanthandel (Antwerp Diamond Exchange), sited at 78 Pelikaanstraat, is next door to ABN AMRO Bank's location at 70-76 Pelikaanstraat in Antwerp's Diamond District; SNCB Antwerpen-Centraal (Antwerp Central Station) is conveniently across the street; photo taken Feb. 6, 2009: Kristina D.C. Hoeppner, (4nitsirk), CC BY SA 2.0, via Flickr

The Antwerp ABN AMRO Bank diamond heist in Belgium March 2-5, 2007, allows no answers about the whereabouts of the perpetrator, despite his one-year acquaintance with staff, and his precious purloined piles.
The sole diamond heist perpetrator daily bestowed consistently charming and courteous conduct and conversation upon, and even regularly brought chocolates for, Antwerp ABN AMRO Bank staff. No surveillance system caught complete views of the customer calling himself Carlos Hector Flomenbaum even though police constructed a sketch for public circulation after the crime. No closed-circuit television, heat monitor, light or seismic sensor or motion detector disclosed any dangers to vault deposits during the perpetrator's last days at ABN AMRO.
The self-described retired, successful businessman enjoyed exclusive status as an unsupervised keyholder for entering and exiting the bank vault, anytime, to examine safe deposit box contents.

The ABN AMRO-registered client followed his daily schedule of frequenting the bank vault once or twice daily during operating hours through April 2 or 5, 2007.
No staff person ever got another glimpse of the Antwerp ABN AMRO Bank diamond heist perpetrator or of five vault boxes full of diamonds and gems. They had handed the key to the VIP section of the bank vault over to the holder of an identity stolen from a stolen Argentinian passport. Inspection of the bank vault April 5, 2007, identified deposit box losses at €26 million ($28 million) in 120,000 carats of cut, polished and rough diamonds.
The Antwerp ABN AMRO Bank diamond heist perpetrator never jimmied any locks because of 24-7 electronic card access to five boxes unlocked for cutters and pawnbrokers.

Staff at Pelikaanstraat 70-76 in the 1-square-mile (2.59-square-kilometer) Diamond Quarter (Diamantkwartier) knew of the Antwerp ABN AMRO Bank diamond heist perpetrator as a bespectacled, self-described pensioner.
Staff listed bushy eyebrows, clean-shaven face, dilated pupils and gray hair under a dark baseball cap for a gentleman 6 feet 3 inches (1.91 meters) tall. They mentioned an age of 55 to 60 years, an unspecified American speech pattern in English and no known physical address or professional acquaintances in Belgium. The Associated Press Archive article Belgium Diamonds March 13, 2007, noted that "a passport in that name (Flomenbaum) was stolen in Israel a few years ago."
Dominique Reyniers, Antwerp Prosecutor's spokesperson, offered March 12, 2007, that "The person who delivers the golden tip can expect a reward of 2 (m) million euros."

Ian Smillie, Lansana Gberie and Ralph Hazleton presented ABN AMRO and Antwerpse Diamantbank (Antwerp Diamond Bank) as processing 90 percent of Antwerp's diamond transactions in 2000.
Stephen Castle for The Independent March 18, 2007, quoted Philip Claes, Hoge Raad voor Diamant (Diamond High Council) spokesman, on ABN AMRO's million-euro ($1,128,500) security system. Claes revealed that "despite all the efforts one makes in investing in (an expensive hi-tech) security (system), when a human error is made nothing can help." He said that "You can have all the (bank) safety and security you want, but if someone uses their charm to mislead people it won't help."
What tempted the Antwerp ABN AMRO Bank diamond heist perpetrator to take rough diamonds that tender no Kimberley Process-certified origins outside Angola, Liberia and Sierra Leone?

Politie Antwerpen (Antwerp Police) Gezocht ("Wanted") composite sketch of prime suspect Yehuda Mishali, who presented himself as chocolate-gifting Carlos Hector Flomenbaum to staff at Antwerp's ABN AMRO Bank; distributed to media by Antwerp Prosecutor's Office

Acknowledgment
My special thanks to:
Talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the Internet;
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University for superior on-campus and on-line resources.
Image credits:
Beurs voor Diamanthandel (Antwerp Diamond Exchange), sited at 78 Pelikaanstraat, is next door to ABN AMRO Bank's location at 70-76 Pelikaanstraat in Antwerp's Diamond District; SNCB Antwerpen-Centraal (Antwerp Central Station) is conveniently across the street; photo taken Feb. 6, 2009: Kristina D.C. Hoeppner, (4nitsirk), CC BY SA 2.0, via Flickr @ https://www.flickr.com/photos/4nitsirk/3257893493/
Politie Antwerpen (Antwerp Police) Gezocht ("Wanted") composite sketch of prime suspect Yehuda Mishali, who presented himself as chocolate-gifting Carlos Hector Flomenbaum to staff at Antwerp's ABN AMRO Bank; distributed to media by Antwerp Prosecutor's Office

For further information:
AP Archive. 21 July 2015. "Belgian Officials Say Suspect Arrested in Antwerp Diamond Theft." YouTube.
Available @ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FeAI_RuCygk
AP Archive. 21 July 2015. "Belgian Police Offer $2 Million Reward to Track Down Stolen Diamonds." YouTube.
Available @ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tkFXf-Jv4Zo
Associated Press. 12 March 2007. "Man Steals $28 Million in Diamonds from Bank." NBC News > World > Europe.
Available @ http://www.nbcnews.com/id/17581876/ns/world_news-europe/t/man-steals-million-diamonds-bank/#.WoybzKinGUk
Belga News Agency (belga/mvdb). 30 March 2009. "Duo dat 21,3 miljoen euro aan diamanten stal in juni voor Antwerpse rechter." De Morgen > Nieuws > Binnenland.
Available @ https://www.demorgen.be/binnenland/duo-dat-21-3-miljoen-euro-aan-diamanten-stal-in-juni-voor-antwerpse-rechter-bd10a301/
"Belgium Diamonds." Associated Press Archive > March 13, 2007.
Available @ http://www.aparchive.com/metadata/youtube/%200c49ab4df43282d8c3c8d9e424e74a5e
Castle, Stephen. 18 March 2007. "Thief Woos Bank Staff with Chocolates." The Independent > News > World > Europe.
Available @ http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/thief-woos-bank-staff-with-chocolates-then-steals-diamonds-worth-16314m-5332414.html
"Echte Carlos Hector Flomenbaum Wil Schadevergoeding." Nieuwsblad > Nieuws > Binnenland > 24/05/2007.
Available @ https://www.nieuwsblad.be/cnt/dmf24052007_085
"A Man Found Guilty of Robbing an ABN Amro Bank in Antwerp’s Diamond Quarter Was Sentenced to Five Years in Prison Last Week." Flanders Today > News in Brief  > November 25, 2009.
Available @ http://www.flanderstoday.eu/sites/default/files/magazine/FT_2009_48.pdf
Marriner, Derdriu. 16 February 2018. "Antwerp Diamond Center Heist: Four Convictions, No Cash, Gold, Jewelry." Earth and Space News.
Available @ https://earth-and-space-news.blogspot.com/2018/02/antwerp-diamond-center-heist-four.html
Selby, Scott Andrew; and Campbell, Greg. 2010. Flawless: Inside the Largest Diamond Heist in History. New York NY: Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.
Selby, Scott Andrew; and Campbell, Greg. 2016. Flawless: Inside the Largest Diamond Heist in History. Read by Don Hagen. Gildan Media on Dreamscape Audio.
Serrano, Alfonso. 12 March 2007. "$28M Diamond Heist in Antwerp." CBSNews.
Available @ https://www.cbsnews.com/news/28m-diamond-heist-in-antwerp/
Smillie, Ian; Gberie, Lansana; and Hazleton, Ralph. January 2000. The Heart of the Matter: Sierra Leone, Diamonds & Human Security (Complete Report). Ontario Canada: Partnership Africa Canada, Insights Series Edited by Bernard Taylor.
Available @ https://cryptome.org/kimberly/kimberly-016.pdf
"What Is the Kimberley Process?" Kimberley Process.com.
Available @ https://www.kimberleyprocess.com/en/what-kp


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