NYC lawsuit: Diamond stolen in UK emerged in Asia

Last Updated: Friday, January 13, 2012 - 15:06

New York: A big diamond snatched by
Bentley-driving bandits in a brazen, USD 20 million London
robbery has popped up in a Hong Kong pawn shop, says a
jeweller who`s suing in New York to try to get it back.

The more than 16-carat yellow diamond was among those
snatched in a July 2007 holdup at a Graff Diamonds Ltd branch
in London, the tony London-based jeweller says in a suit filed
last week in Manhattan state Supreme Court.

A pair of sharply dressed bandits stepped out of a USD
250,000 Bentley Continental Flying Spur, pretended to be
shoppers and chatted up store staffers before brandishing
handguns and stealing diamonds and gem-studded rings,
necklaces, pendants and earrings, Graff and police said at the
time.

The Hong Kong shop later submitted the diamond for
certification to the Gemological Institute of America, a New
York-based nonprofit that grades and identifies jewels, the
lawsuit said.

The institute, which had certified the diamond before the
robbery, determined the pawn shop had presented the very same
gem, although it has been re-cut, Graff`s lawsuit says.

"Graff is and was the true owner of the diamond and
entitled to immediate possession of the diamond," but the pawn
shop won`t let the institute return the gem, the lawsuit says.
It`s silent on the stone`s value, and the company`s lawyer
didn`t immediately return a call.

The lawsuit says the institute has the diamond at the
moment while it awaits resolution of the ownership dispute.
Sam Hung, a director at the Yau On pawn shop in Hong Kong,
said he was not aware the diamond was stolen when the shop
bought it.

"When I received the diamond, I had documentation about
where I bought it but I had no method of knowing the source
(of the diamond). But we did pay for it, we`re a pawn shop. We
are now negotiating. My lawyers said maybe we could come to a
compromise about how much we need to pay to get it back before
the court case starts," Hung said.

Hung said he paid about 3 million Hong Kong dollars (USD
386,000) for the diamond.

The institute said it couldn`t discuss the matter because
of the dispute but noted that it regularly works with law
enforcement when stones are reported lost or stolen. (AP)

PTI



First Published: Friday, January 13, 2012 - 15:06

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