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Missing diamonds parcel saga a big source of concern

The government must immediately halt the sale of diamonds to Mr Paolo Persico’s Erleen Gold Trading DMCC. Thoroughly investigate how Persico ended up being the sole buyer of ZCDC and Anjin-produced diamonds. Investigate all past diamond sales involving Mr. Persico and or beneficial owners of the Erleen Gold Trading DMCC. Suspend all diamond sales until the bidding procedure anomalies have been rectified and properly streamlined by the MMCZ. Hold all those involved in the unprocedural diamond sales accountable. - CNRG.

The Centre for Natural Resource Governance (CNRG) notes with concern a developing criminal case against five accomplices accused of stealing diamonds during a routine sale transaction at the RGM International Airport.

This incident, reported by local media, reveals glaring governance and oversight loopholes in the sale of diamonds by a leading diamond mining company Anjin Investments.

On May 12, The Standard reported that five Zimbabweans had been arrested for stealing a diamond parcel destined for the United Arab Emirates.

The diamond parcel, labelled 39 out of 100 parcels, reportedly weighed 98.20 carats and was valued at US$31,010.53 according to local media.

The five officials – a diamond inspector, an evaluator, two security guards, and a police officer were arrested a month later, having allegedly committed the offence on April 17.

On May 2024, The Herald, a state-owned newspaper reported that the five accomplices revealed in court that UAE-based recipient, Erleen Gold Trading DMCC, Dubai bought the diamonds unprocedurally because they did not go through the bidding process.

This incident reveals serious transparency and due diligence flaws in the diamond sale procedures at Anjin.

Amid this debacle, eyebrows will be raised on how the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ) agreed with a company that did not follow formal diamond bidding processes.

Ironically, the MMCZ is set up to ensure effective accountability of national mineral resources through sound inspectorate and monitoring strategies in line with the corporation policies and control systems.

Further, since the missing parcel was discovered in Dubai after all parties had signed off the shipment in Harare, why then are Zimbabwean authorities an interested party?

The complainant in this case, an Italian national named Paolo Persico who represents Erleen Gold Trading DMCC, raises a red flag.

In 2021 Persico, alongside two Belarusian businessmen, Alexander Zingman and Oleg Vodchits, were arrested and detained for 12 days in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

They were later released without charge and immediately flew to Harare.

The matter also raises serious questions about the pricing of Zimbabwe’s diamonds.

If the 98.20 carat parcel was valued at $31 000 this places Zimbabwe’s near gem diamonds at US$315/ct, way above official claims of US$90/ct.

At number 39, the missing parcel must have been outside the gem quality category.

Diamonds produced by Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) are also sold to the same Paolo Persico’s Erleen Gold Trading DMCC company, which is effectively determining the value of Zimbabwe’s diamonds.

Zimbabwe’s diamonds continue to face serious transparency and human rights challenges since their discovery in 2006.

The country has failed to ensure that diamonds contribute to local and national development as is the case with neighbouring Botswana. – (The Standard)

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