Israeli-Russian diamond magnate, investor, and philanthropist Lev Avnerovich Leviev, 66, landed overnight Wednesday in Israel, after several years in which he stayed abroad and ignored police requests to answer questions regarding the Black Diamond affair – the alleged smuggling of NIS 300 million ($87 million) worth of diamonds between 2008 and 2018 by an employee of his company, LLD.
Leviev arrived on a flight from Russia, and sources at the airport told Ynet that a police detective approached him when he got off his plane and handed him a summons to come to a police interrogation.
The police investigation has revealed that at least one LLD employee was involved in the illegal transport of diamonds six years ago when he arrived in Israel as a returning citizen. Police discovered bills of sale connected to the diamonds, and believe the man sold the smuggled diamonds without reporting the sales to the Tax Authority.
The police interrogated with a warning nine LLD employees in 2018, including Leviev’s son, Zebulon, and other relatives, and one of them, a woman, fell to her death from the ninth floor of the building where she worked near the Ramat Gan Diamond Exchange.
Leviev is expected to be interrogated in the coming days––perhaps as early as today––at the national special crime unit Lahav 433, which conducted the 2018 investigation.
According to a spokesperson for Leviev, “Mr. Leviev went to the LAHAV 433 headquarters this morning and provided his consistent statement, whereby he was not involved at any point in diamond smuggling. Mr. Leviev will return to his family tonight and return to Israel in the upcoming weeks.”
When the affair broke out, the police and the Tax Authority confiscated Leviev’s assets in Israel, and raided offices in the Diamond Exchange, confiscating diamonds that belonged to some of the suspects.
Four years ago, during the negotiations between Leviev’s attorneys and the Israel Police regarding his return to be questioned in Israel, the police received a document stating Leviev “is ready to come forward and give full and detailed answers to the questions.” Leviev offered to be interrogated from his place of residence abroad or to come to Israel for an investigation, at the end of which he would be allowed to return to his work abroad. He proposed to stay under house arrest during his interrogation and post a bond guaranteeing his availability.
The Samarkand, Uzbek-born Leviev lived in Israel between 1971-2007, then moved to London. He has been living in Russia since 2018. He is a major Chabad philanthropist. In 2018, Forbes estimated his net worth at $1 billion.