New Delhi: Ukraine’s state anti-corruption agency has included Indian diamond firm, Shree Ramakrishna Exports, on a list of “international war sponsors” for allegedly purchasing Russian diamonds. Denying the charge, the company said that the allegation has been made with the intent to “tarnish India’s diamond industry”.
Ukraine’s National Agency on Corruption Prevention (NACP) maintains a list of “international war sponsors” of companies and individuals that provide “provide the public and private sector with goods and services of critical purpose, as well as replenish the budget of the aggressor country, thereby financing the war”. The agency described the list as a “powerful reputational tool” and claimed cooperation with World Check Database used to assess financial risks.
A press release issued by NACP on September 15 announced that Shree Ramakrishna Exports was included in the list of “war sponsors”, becoming the second company from India on the Ukrainian list.
“The Indian company continues to cooperate with the aggressor, purchasing diamonds in Russia, despite the sanctions imposed against the Russian Federation in this sphere. In 2023, the company tripled the purchase of diamonds in the Russian Federation compared to 2021,” said the citation.
The press note added that while other Western companies “bypass the Russian market, Shree Ramakrishna Exports actively buys Russian diamonds on favourable terms, thereby actively sponsoring aggression against Ukraine”.
With the largest diamond reserves in the world, Russia is the biggest exporter of rough diamonds. More than 90% of Russia’s diamond mining capacity is held by Russian firm, Alrosa, which is partly owned by the state. Following the Ukraine war, the United States had issued sanctions against Alrosa. However, the European Union brought $1.5 billion worth of Russian diamonds last year as it has not imposed sanctions on Alrosa.
India stands out as one of the few major economies that have refrained from publicly denouncing Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, opting to abstain on United Nations resolutions critical of Moscow.
Last month, Alrosa reported financial results for the first time since the February 2022 invasion of Ukraine. It said that diamond sales in the first half of 2023 were at the same levels as a year ago.
Even as Ukraine listed the Indian diamond firm as a “war sponsor”, Reuters reported that the G-7 group of industrialised nations will soon announce an import ban on Russian diamonds, but admitted that the implementation would depend heavily on India.
As per current rules, Russian diamonds cut and polished outside, are considered originating from the country that “substantially transforms” them. More than 90% of the world’s diamonds are cut and polished in India. There had been disquiet among G-7 countries that this was a loophole that allowed Russia’s diamond industry to keep on expanding despite sanctions.
The proposed G-7 rules would permit India to process diamonds regardless of their origin while requiring that Russian diamonds be specifically identified and separated.
In a statement published on its website, Shree Ramakrishna Exports claimed that it has “found itself unjustly a target in the web of global geopolitics, misinformation, and baseless allegations”.
It stated that accusations by Ukraine’s NACP have been “made with an apparent intent to tarnish India’s diamond industry by pointing to one of the prominent brands in the Indian trade – SRK, and thereby causing reputational damage to SRK, without any factual basis”.
Claiming that SRK does “not endorse or support” any conflict, the company asserted that it has “never engaged in any transactions with UN, US, Indian or OFAC sanctioned entities or individuals involved in any form of conflict”.
The statement also stated that the Indian firm “reserved right to take legal action against the relevant agency to protect SRK’s and India’s global Image”.
The first Indian company to be listed by the Ukrainian agency is the CK Birla group’s NBC Bearing in May this year.