GGMC still moving to prosecute over huge diamonds seizure

The Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) is still pushing ahead to prosecute the principals of the Belgian firm that was reportedly caught with 4,000 carats of rough diamonds suspected to have been smuggled into the country.

An official at GGMC told Stabroek News yesterday that they were still going through the process of verification of the precious stones, which is taking some time. The official, however, maintained that GGMC has substantial evidence that the gems were not extracted in Guyana, although the firm Explorer Trade and Company Limited is holding fast to its position that the diamonds are from Guyana.

Contacted yesterday Managing Director of the Belgian firm, Yuri Zaprudnov said that the matter is in the process of being resolved. He did not elaborate but added that his company was still operating. And acting Commissioner of Police Henry Greene told Stabroek News yesterday that they are yet to receive word from the GGMC with regard to the investigations.

It is now one week since it was revealed that the GGMC had seized the diamonds. William Woolford, the GGMC Commissioner (Acting) had declared last week Monday that the agency had warned the company and will prosecute.

ources 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. 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. I

n 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.

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