$25 million 'freezer' for diamond dealer

Posted: 18th November 2014

DiamondsAn international bank which claims to be owed more than $25 million by a Belgian diamond dealership, and is engaged in a worldwide hunt for assets to satisfy the debt, has won a High Court order freezing four London bank accounts.

The dealership, a subsidiary of a Hong Kong-based company, had a turnover of over $300 million but was said to have defaulted on a credit facility. Parallel proceedings were on foot in Belgium, but the dealership’s bank accounts there had been found to contain a mere €2,600.

In granting the freezing order, the Court found that the bank had established a good arguable case that, as of February 2013, the dealership owed it $25,721,088, on which interest was continuing to accrue. Arguments put forward by the dealership in the Belgian proceedings were attacked as ‘frankly absurd’ by the bank and the Court agreed that the evidence showed a ‘clear and real risk’ of dissipation of assets.

However, the Court refused to grant the bank an order requiring the dealership to disclose full details of all its assets worldwide. The dealership, which was based in the diamond district of Antwerp, had ‘no presence’ within England and Wales. Although there was evidence that it had assets in this country, that was insufficient to confer territorial jurisdiction over the foreign assets of a foreign company.