A British court heard a case of woman posing as a gem expert trading a £ 4.2 million ($ 5.7 million) diamond for pebbles with a “magic trick” in a luxury hotel.
Prosecutors said on Tuesday that Lulu Lakatos, 60, posed as a gemstone expert and went to the jewellery store Boodles in Tony Mayfair in London in March 2016, allegedly to appraise Seven Diamonds on behalf of a group of wealthy Russian buyers.
The diamond, including a 20-carat heart-shaped diamond worth more than £ 2.2 million, was to be placed in a sealed bag and kept in the jeweller’s safe until payment could be made. But when the diamond expert suspected something and opened the bag the next day, she found seven small pebbles.
Prosecutor Philip Stott said the diamonds were ”stolen by the defendant’s dexterity.” He told Southwark Crown Court in London:
“the plot in which she allegedly played an integral and instrumental role was one of the highest possible complexity, planning, risk and reward.”
Lakatos, born in Romania but lived there in France, denies any misconduct. She’s accused of conspiracy to steal.
Nicholas Wainwright, president of Boodles, one of Britain’s largest luxury jewellery brands, said in a statement that an Israeli buyer who had contacted him wanted to invest in high-quality diamonds in the weeks prior to the theft. He agreed to sell the Seven Diamonds after a meeting at a hotel in Monaco.
Wainwright met Lakatos in the basement of his store, with his diamond expert Emma Barton. As soon as Wainwright left the room to receive a call from the alleged buyer, Lakatos put the sealed wallet with the gems in her handbag, Barton told the jury.
Barton said she protested, but Stott claimed that Lakatos replaced the wallet with a similar sealed bag and put it back on the table within seconds.
Prosecutors said Lakatos then worked with his accomplices to get to France in a rented car.
Two men have already committed conspiracy to steal the robbery.
Barton said she discovered “seven pebbles in the garden” when she opened the wallet the next night.
Lakatos was arrested in France last September under a European Arrest. The process is expected to take a few more days.