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Belgian police conduct raids after suspected Russian diamonds seized

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Antwerp police conducted six raids on Wednesday and made four arrests as part of an investigation into some diamond imports suspected of being Russian-origin, Antwerp's public prosecutor office said in a statement on Friday.

The investigation is the first related to the EU and Group of Seven (G7) import ban on diamonds from Russia that began on Jan. 1 to punish Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine. A wider ban on Russian-origin stones imported via third countries began on March 1. Russia's state-owned company Alrosa is one of the world's largest diamond miners.

The investigation was launched after customs officials seized diamonds in late February, the statement said. A spokesperson for the prosecutor said three shipments had been confiscated.

The Belgian city has for centuries been a global diamond hub, particularly for rough diamonds, though 90% of polishing is now done in India.

Sources familiar with the matter said the value of the three seized shipments was in the millions of euros. One source specified the overall value was around 8 million euro ($8.64 million).

A spokesperson for the prosecutor declined to comment on the combined value of the shipments. In the statement, the prosecutor's office added that documents and digital media were seized during the raid.

($1 = 0.9257 euros)

(Reporting by Julia Payne; Editing by David Gregorio)