Cops: Mastermind of Jewel Heist Was the Store Owner

Australia's Michel Germani allegedly orchestrated January robbery for insurance money
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted May 9, 2023 1:50 PM CDT
Jeweler to Royalty Accused of Robbing Own Store
Stock image.   (Getty / Zhenikeyev)

The owner of Australian luxury jewelry company Germani Jewellery claims to have designed items for Saudi and British royalty, including Princess Diana. But his biggest claim came in January, when the 65-year-old reported suffering a $2.8 million armed heist at one of his Sydney stores. According to New South Wales police, Michel Elias Germani was actually the mastermind of said heist. He told police that two men had demanded access to the store's safe before tying up Germani and another employee and making off with nearly $3 million in valuables. Germani also said one of the two assailants had threatened his employee, a 47-year-old woman, with a knife. Police arrested two men in the case last month, but soon determined something "just didn't seem right," as the Guardian reports.

Germani was arrested Monday on charges including aggravated robbery. On Tuesday, police told reporters he was involved in "planning and coordinating the robbery" at the Hilton Hotel store in an effort "to defraud an insurance company." "There is sufficient evidence that would implicate the store owner in orchestrating the two males to conduct that robbery upon his store," Detective Superintendent Joe Doueihi said, per ABC Australia. The heist did, in fact, happen. Doueihi said Germani's employee, unaware of the hoax, was left injured and "absolutely traumatized," per the Guardian. Shanel Tofaeono, 37, and Mounir Helou, 57, were charged with aggravated robbery in April. "Doueihi said he does not believe the three men had a direct relationship prior to the robbery," per ABC. (More armed robbery stories.)

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