Antwerp: Banks in Belgium are reluctant to extend vital loans to help diamond firms survive coronavirus.
The Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC), representing 1,600 companies, claims banks are turning down applicants who clearly qualify for a financial lifeline.
The banks agreed a $55bn emergency loans policy with the Belgian government early on in the COVID-19 crisis.
But AWDC spokeswoman Margaux Donckier told Belgian newspaper De Tijd they were dodging their responsibility to the diamond industry.
“The attitude of the banks is at odds with what the government is saying,” she said. “They are avoiding their responsibilities.”
Diamond companies have struggled to take out loans or open accounts since the closure of the Antwerp Diamond Bank in 2014.
Banks are wary of the diamond industry, says De Tijd, because of its reputation for tax evasion and money laundering.