A billionaire diamond trader named Ehud Arye Laniado recently died at a Parisian clinic where he was undergoing a penis enlargement surgery. The procedure reportedly triggered a fatal heart attack in the 65-year old. The names of the doctor and clinic involved have not been released to the public.
Laniado has been in ongoing legal battles with the Belgian government and customs office for alleged tax evasion and lying about large shipments of diamonds imported from Angola and Congo. While his company managed to pay off authorities, he has continued to face allegations of unethical business practices and money laundering.
Laniado’s company, Omega Diamonds, is based in Antwerp, Belgium—a city where many of the world’s top diamond producers have also decided to place their headquarters. In fact, 84% of the of the diamonds that are mined throughout the entire world end up passing through Antwerp.
A statement the company released this week read:
“Farewell to a visionary businessman. It is with great sadness that we confirm that our founder Ehud Arye Laniado has passed away. After living an exceptional life Ehud will be brought back home to Israel as his final resting place. He will be dearly missed by us all.”
Despite his massive wealth and the success of his business, Laniado was said to be extremely self-conscious and insecure. A friend told reporters that Laniado was “always focused on his appearance and how others perceived him”.
To calm his anxiety about his physical appearance, the diamond tycoon would ask his accountant to read his bank statement aloud a few times every day, just to remind him that he was significant. According to The Sun, Laniado owned the most expensive penthouse in Monaco, worth over £30 million (nearly $40 million USD). He also had numerous other residences in high profile locations, including Bel Air where he was said to party with models and movie stars.
Laniado spent his early days as a masseuse at the Hilton hotel in Tel Aviv, but quickly fell into the world of diamond trading after visiting Antwerp.
“In Antwerp, it turned out that he did have some talents. Internationally, he was one of the biggest experts in valuing raw diamonds,” a friend told local media.
Laniado’s company, Omega Diamonds, is notorious for facilitating human rights violations by selling “blood diamonds” from regions where slave labor and child labor are used to extract the resource from the ground. However, the company has managed to successfully fight lawsuits and formal charges in court. Omega was eventually forced to pay a $195 million settlement to keep their executives out of prison, which was the highest settlement of its kind in the country’s history.
Laniado was also a partner in Ascorp, the Angolan diamond monopoly controlled by Russian-Israeli billionaire Lev Leviev, who is a close friend of Vladimir Putin, according to Irish Times.
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