Story By: Delano Langras, Sub Editor: Michael Leidig, Agency: Newsflash
This stunning white gold ring with a 5.14-carat diamond is being auctioned by the Belgian authorities after being seized from Pakistani gangsters who reportedly set up a network of petrol stations selling cut-price fuel without paying tax.
The gang was active in the 1990s and was eventually raided in early 2001 in a massive operation that saw 150 properties searched, and 110 petrol stations closed, with evidence that members made profits of up to EUR 1 billion (GBP 890,000).
The scam was centred in Flanders in Belgium where locals quickly realised that the Pakistani company was selling petrol cheaper than their rivals and would queue down the road to be served.
Following complaints from major petrol stations about being undercut, an investigation was carried out and tax inspectors were called in who found the gang were not paying VAT.
They reportedly racked up a fortune while paying some staff members as little as 2 GBP a day.
Most of the gang’s earnings were not recovered, and many of the accused were never convicted after employing a team of expensive lawyers.
All that could be recovered was EUR 322,000 (GBP 296,000) in one bank account and EUR 7 million (GBP 6.2 million) that was in a safe at their home.
However, the wheels of justice continued to turn, and in 2017 the federal public prosecutor’s office and the Central Agency for Seizure and Forfeiture (COIV) moved to seize EUR 1.5 million (GBP 1.3 million) worth of movable and immovable property belonging to the same Pakistani family.
These included luxury cars and jewellery, including the diamond ring now being auctioned to recoup some of the money to the government’s coffers.
The ring, which has never been worn, has currently attracted a bid of 80,200 (GBP 71,000) but a similar ring sold from the same shop as this one, Chow Tai Fook in Hong Kong, recently sold for EUR 117,589 (GBP 104,000).
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