The story of the savers who invested their money in diamonds risks becoming a Kafkaesque nightmare. Because not only are many of them still struggling to get some form of compensation from the bank that convinced them to buy a product that is worth less than they promised, but now they are also facing the consequences of the collapse of one of the companies involved in the sale of the stones. On 15 January last, the court of Milan declared the bankruptcy of the Intermarket Diamond Business (IDB), one of the two companies active in the placement of diamonds through the intermediation of banks. The problem is that the majority of investors had decided not to withdraw the stones (also for security reasons) leaving them in the company’s custody and now, being the latter bankrupt, they should turn to the administrator to get them back in possession.
“In truth,” said the lawyer Letizia Vescovini, specializing in the defense of savers, “the situation is made even more complicated by the fact that many customers are convinced that their stones are in the bank, not having carefully checked the various forms that they had signed at the time of purchase. The problem of the bankruptcy of the IDB concerns mainly the customers of the Bpm group, the bank that has most of all placed the diamonds, more or less 80% of the total (we speak of about 600 million euros brokered). The other institutions, such as Intesa, Unicredit or MPS, having fewer customers involved in the affair have decided to close the game by compensating 100% of the savers and stretching the stones.
The Bpm group instead takes time, perhaps because it has a much larger mass of customers: “Generally this bank offers the saver the return of diamonds plus 30% of the amount invested, a percentage that during negotiations can rise to 60%,” says Vescovini, to whom a hundred customers have turned BPM, some of which with investments exceeding 200 thousand euros. “So the saver to get back the diamonds of the IDB must make an application to the administrator in bankruptcy. And this request must be made, for technical reasons, by March 8. But many customers do not even know that the IDB has failed and is likely, in theory, to lose ownership of the stones. In the meantime, after the disappearance of the IDB, the Bpm could be with the classic match in hand, the only target of any causes of savers.
The investment in diamonds would have been involved more than one hundred thousand Italians, convinced by bank officials to invest in a product that will look very safe. Instead, the price paid was much higher than the value of the stones. A difference due not only to an optimistic evaluation of the stones by the seller, but above all to a series of expenses included in the price of diamonds that were not aware of either the customer or, apparently, the banks: as discovered by the Antitrust in an investigation that led to the conviction of some banks, the cost of the stone at the origin are in fact added to other charges including customs and transport costs (1-5 percent), the margin for the company (20-40 percent), the bank’s commission (10-20 percent), VAT of 22 percent. Thus, the diamond represents, if all goes well, only 30-40% of the total investment. “In the promotional material circulated”, notes the Antitrust “there is no indication that represents, albeit in broad terms, that the cost of purchasing the stone has a minor impact on the total purchase price”.