Why the Diamond Industry Should Steer Clear of Lev Leviev’s Businesses
The Rapaport Group’s statement on Corporate Responsibility lays out a number of important principles to ensure a “strong proactive role promoting and implementing corporate responsibility programs around the world.” Other major jewelry industry associations like Jewelers of America (JA) and the Council for Responsible Jewellery Practices (CRJP) have committed themselves to similar laudable principles to respect human rights and contribute to sustainable development.
Members of the diamond industry should not do business with the companies of Israeli diamantier Lev Leviev because there is strong evidence that Leviev’s businesses violate the Rapaport Group’s principles on corporate responsibility as well as those of the JA and CRJP. Leviev’s businesses have recently been renounced by Oxfam International and UNICEF due to Leviev’s construction of Israeli settlements on Palestinian land in the West Bank in violation of international law. Companies owned by Leviev’s partner in settlement construction, Shaya Boymelgreen, are now being sued for war crimes in Canada.
Leviev’s companies violate the following principles from the Rapaport Group’s statement on Corporate Responsibility:
Rapaport: "Our companies are in full compliance with local and international laws."
New York Magazine reported in 2007 that in Angola, "A security company contracted by Leviev was accused this year by a local human-rights monitor of participating in practices of 'humiliation, whipping, torture, sexual abuse, and, in some cases, assassinations.' "
Kicking off "the GIA bribery scandal" in 2005, Vivid Collection, which was partly owned by Leviev, was sued for allegedly bribing GIA staff to upgrade their ratings of diamonds.
Beyond the diamond industry, Leviev's companies Africa-Israel and Leader are building Jewish-only settlements on Palestinian farmland in the villages of Jayyous and Bil'in, and in other locations. Israeli settlement construction is illegal under international law. It also denies Palestinians access to their land, increases dependency on food aid, and reduces income, severely limiting children's right to education.
Rapaport : "Independent external audits ensure full compliance with all aspects of the Kimberley Process."
According to the 2007 "Diamond Industry Annual Review" for Angola produced by the watchdog organization Partnership Africa Canada (PAC), "the Angolan Kimberley System has no way of tracking" roughly 10% of Angola's "diamonds back to source." As a result, there are "more than a million carats per year exiting Angola... with the murkiest credentials." Leviev, who plays a major role in buying and selling the Angolan diamonds PAC refers to, is directly implicated in these failings.
Rapaport : The private sector has a critical role in "driving sustainable economic development in the poorest countries of the world." "We are committed... to help artisanal diggers and other disadvantaged groups obtain economic self sufficiency."
According to a 2007 report by Partnership Africa Canada, in Angola's diamond mining areas, where Leviev's companies have been major players since 1998, there are "few schools, little treated drinking water, roads unrepaired since colonial days, and little public investment geared to fixing these problems. One of the richest areas in Angola also appears to be one of the most backward."
In Juy, Lev Leviev Diamonds in Namibia fired over 200 striking diamond polishers, some of whom were struggling to survive on less than $2/day, the threshold set for poverty worldwide, and approximately 50% of the prevailing average Namibian minimum wage for all major sectors.