Five days after it was revealed that the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) had seized 4,000 carats of rough diamonds from a Belgian firm suspected to have been smuggled into this country there has been no charge against the company and authorities have been saying little.
Officials at the GGMC said yesterday that they were still working on verifying whether the gems were extracted in Guyana as is being claimed by the company – Explorer Trade and Commerce Limited. However, William Woolford the GGMC Commissioner (Acting) had declared on Monday that GGMC has warned the company and will prosecute. General Manager of the Company Yuri Zaprudnov, while refusing to comment on the matter acknowledged that there were some differences between his firm and the GGMC. The police said they are yet to receive any file from the GGMC on the matter, Acting Crime Chief, Senior Superintendent Seelall Persaud, told Stabroek News on Tuesday.
Sources at the GGMC had said on Monday that the company submitted documents for the export of the diamonds and on checking they were not satisfied with the paperwork. This led to the inspection of the precious stones. When the diamonds were inspected it was found that several pieces that were uncut might not have originated from Guyana. Stabroek News understands that the company has been maintaining that the diamonds were mined here. However, sources at the GGMC said mining inspectors visited the area where the company said they extracted the diamonds but found no sign of this. It is suspected that some of the diamonds were smuggled into the country from Africa, Venezuela or Brazil.
Guyana is a signatory to the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme (KPCS). The KPCS originated from a meeting of Southern African diamond producing states in Kimberley, Northern Cape in May 2000. In order for a country to be a participant, it must ensure that any diamond originating from the country does not finance a rebel group or other entity seeking to overthrow a UN-recognized government. KPCS also mandates that every diamond export be accompanied by a Kimberley Process certificate proving that no diamond is imported from, or exported to, a non-member of the scheme.
A report from diamond industry watchdog, Partnership Africa Canada (PAC) last year had said that although Guyana has good internal controls through the GGMC, as much as 20 per cent of the US$43M diamond production is smuggled to the Brazilian border town of Boa Vista, where they are mixed with Venezuelan diamonds which are then ‘cleansed’ through Kimberley Certification documentation in Guyana before they are exported. In 2004 diamond production reached an all-time high of 425,000 carats while diamond declaration in 2002 and the years prior was at least 50 per cent less. Production has since dropped to around 300,000 carats. Authorities do not believe that ‘blood diamonds’ are coming to Guyana.