UN Says $1 Million in Illicit Diamonds Leaves Angola Daily

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(Rapaport…October 16, 2001) Between $1 million and $1.2 million worth of illicit diamonds are smuggled out of Angola everyday, according to a recent UN Security Council report of the Monitoring Mechanism on Sanctions against UNITA. That figure amounts to between $350 million and $420 million a year, constituting an estimated 5 percent of last year’s world supply of rough stones. It is thought that the Angolan rebel group UNITA sells between 25 and 30 percent of the illegal stones leaving the country.

The report states that a “severe recession in rough diamond trading as a consequence of the economic slowdown in the U.S.” has increased the demand for illegally smuggled conflict diamonds that dealers can buy tax-free, substantially increasing their profit margins.

The UN report also states that trading companies based in Antwerp and South Africa serve as key points of sale or transit for embargoed Angolan stones and that Israel is being used as a laundering route for some imports. The report goes on to state that neither the Belgian nor the Israeli diamond control systems have the primary purpose of revealing illicit trade, and that their import systems lack the capacity to determine the origin of diamonds. Little is required in those countries’ import invoices, according to the report, other than names of the seller and the buyer and the purported place of origin, which in some instances is no more than simply “Kinshasa,” for example. However, “there is insufficient evidence present to identify these companies,” the report says.

Full UN Report

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