Letter: Honest traders

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Paul Lashmar seems to be saying that all traders and diamond merchants in Hatton Garden are rogues, and in cahoots with the criminal fraternity ("Jewellery and junk", 11 August). This, sir, is quite simply not true.

It is probably true that criminals try to buy gold with their ill-gotten gains. But anyone in the Garden who sells gold, whether it be on account or for cash, will keep a record of the purchaser's identity (and probably his picture on the security camera tape) and these details will be as readily available to the police as the records of a building society or a bank.

Your journalist appears to imply that some very old money launderers continue to perpetrate a very old fraud, which indicates either that they are not particularly skilled at fraud or that he has confused an old VAT scam with his latest drug "scoop". However, your writer is strangely coy when describing the exact nature of money laundering in the 1990s.

It is true that some people in Hatton Garden have been charged with handling stolen goods. But remarkably few in the last five years, as police figures confirm. Yet you imply that the fine jewellery industry is merely a cover for organised crime. There are hundreds of diamond dealers and jewellers in "the Garden" selling goods worth millions of dollars, and trading lawfully. There are specialist craftsmen who create some of the finest jewellery in the world. This article denigrated and belittled them all

JUDY HEAD

Company Secretary

The Hatton Garden Association

London EC1

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