Monday, November 14, 2011

KP clearance to Zimba diamonds to end smuggling

The flow of Rs 5,000 crore of illicit rough diamonds that enter the country, particularly world's biggest diamond cutting and polishing centre in Surat from Zimbabwe without Kimberley Process (KP) certificates every year, is set to diminish.

"KP's export clearance to Zimbabwe is naturally going to ease our work pressure. It is a difficult task to crack the diamond smuggling racket. We were successful in cracking three cases since 2008. We are confident that the illegal smuggling of diamonds will decrease drastically in the coming days," said a senior revenue intelligence officer.

The diamond smuggling cartels were active for two main reasons: gap in the demand and supply of rough diamonds with depleting productions at the diamond mines across the world and the smuggled goods came 30 per cent cheaper than the price charged for the stones with KP certificates. "Now since import from Zimbabwe will be treated as legal, the diamond cartels are likely to disappear from the scene," said the officer.

Surat was the final destination for the blood diamonds smuggled from African countries. However, authorities concerned have busted rackets and seized three consignment of blood diamonds, each valued above Rs.3 crore or more in the past couple of years. In September 2008, revenue intelligence officials arrested two Lebanese men - Robai Hussain and Yusuf Ossely - with 3,600 carats of rough diamonds worth Rs.3.85 crore. Two blood diamond smuggling cases were reported on April 22, 2011 and August 9,2011. A total of 58,500 carats of blood diamonds worth Rs.14.42 crore were seized and four carriers including a foreign national from Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) arrested. Prema Patel and Johrabhai Desai were arrested in April with blood diamonds originating from the controversial Marange diamond fields in Zimbabwe. A foreign national Jean Tshimaga and Pravin Ajudia, a resident of Rajkot, were held in August with blood diamonds brought from Congo.

The diamond cartels active in Mumbai and Dubai, employ the carriers from India and foreign countries like Congo, Mozambique, Lebanon etc. to bring the consignment from the African countries into India. Kirti Shah, a leading diamantaire and former municipal corporator, said, "Diamond smuggling activity increased after 2006 when the Marange mine was discovered in Zimbabwe. The illegal diamond consignment was brought to Mumbai via Dubai. The carriers charged anything between 2 and 3 per cent."

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