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Dodgy gem dealer dribbles Zim govt

BLACKLISTED diamond dealer, Jamal Ahmed reportedly dribbled past authorities by participating in the Minerals and Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ) diamond auction using a company reportedly fronted by his son.

This was despite his ban from participating in the auction by the government this year following a litany of allegations against him.

Ahmed is the diamond dealer infamously known for the Grace Mugabe diamond ring fiasco.

MMCZ auctioned one million carats of diamonds during the last sale which were divided into four parcels of 250 000 carats each.

On sale, 40 companies submitted bids and 15 were shortlisted but eventually all the four parcels were won by two companies, Diamore DMCC (three parcels) and NRTS Diamonds Limited (one parcel). Each parcel was worth around US$15 million.

Sources say officials at the MMCZ then discovered that Diamore DMCC which had won the three parcels had strong links to the blacklisted diamond dealer. There were indications that a relative allegedly his son was fronting the company, something which triggered the intervention of authorities.

The authorities then decided that the two companies should get one parcel each following the exposure of Ahmed links while the remaining two parcels would be re-tendered at the next sale.

There is, however, another scandal attached to the sale. There are allegations that against the norm, MMCZ allowed the two buyers to pay in three instalments for each parcel.

“This is unheard of and the shocking thing is how they valued those diamonds which were paid in instalments considering that a parcel will be intact. It is shocking how those valuations were made and it points to a need for an investigation,” a source close to the developments said.

There are further allegations that Diamore DMCC paid for all its diamonds in three instalments but NRTS only paid two instalments and the third is now subject to contestation after the NRTS client refused the third assortment citing quality issues.

That, according to sources, then opened a can of worms with further allegations that the client in question might have been Ahmed.

The scandal then reportedly triggered suspicion that NTRS might have selected gems from the parcel and paid for them leaving diamonds of poor quality, which according to sources, sparked a rift between MMCZ and the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC).

“The last diamond sale has been marred in controversy as the blacklisted diamond dealer participated in the auction despite being barred. He reportedly used a company called Diamore DMCC which was fronted by his son. Right now there are monies still owed to ZCDC after the sale,” another source said.

ZCDC chief executive Mark Mabhudhu referred questions to MMCZ.

“Thank you for your inquiry in respect of the above issues you are raising with ZCDC. Unfortunately ZCDC as a producer does not handle information related to the customers who buy the product.

“Such information is competently dealt with by our selling agent who is MMCZ. May I therefore refer you to MMCZ for further responses and guidance in this regard,” Mabhudhu said.

Efforts to get a comment from MMCZ were futile after MMCZ public relations manager Pretty Musonza referred questions to the deputy general manager Masimba Chandavengerwa who had not responded by the time of going to print.

Questions sent to Ahmed in writing had not been responded to.

Ahmed was blacklisted this year from participating in the diamond auction as part of efforts to bust a diamond buying syndicate that had sucked in MMCZ, the state-owned minerals marketer.

Looking at the latest events, there are indications that there are officials within MMCZ who still have strong relations with the diamond dealer who was recently threatened with deportation and imprisonment over his diamond dealings.

Sources further noted that there was a possibility of collusion at the diamonds auction which significantly enabled one buyer to exploit the market unfairly, resulting in the dealer enjoying untenable monopoly over the country’s diamonds.

Ahmed has over the years been accused of enjoying the assistance of MMCZ top officials to the extent of him buying all of the country’s diamond parcels. Jamal has always denied the allegations citing that he was a clear buyer who just offered competitive bids.

There are allegations that ZCDC evaluators and MMCZ marketers have also been part of a syndicate which has been lining up pockets through leaking diamond prices to prospective buyers, eliminating competition in diamond buying.

An internal investigation was launched at ZCDC last year which resulted in the dismissal of one senior employee (name withheld) on allegations related to the leaking of prices to buyers.

The diamond trading industry in Zimbabwe has always been targeted by unscrupulous elements with some accused of smuggling the precious mineral through Mozambique.

Three years ago, a Lebanese diamond dealer Hussein Robai was deported from Zimbabwe over allegations of illegal diamond dealings working in cahoots with former ZCDC executives.

The deportation of Robai came after there were consented efforts by officials at Foreign Affairs and ZCDC to protect the Lebanese. He was, however, deported only after intervention of the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO).

The Department of Immigration deported Robai over his illegal diamond dealing convictions in India and he also faced allegations of diamond smuggling in the country. (The Independent)

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