(Rapaport…October 28, 2002) An executive from Oryx Natural Resources slammed a United Nations (UN) report on conflict diamonds October 25, refuting allegations that his firm traffics in illegal goods. He said that although a UN panel, which wrote the report appears to be immune from prosecution, Oryx managers are seeking a court in which to clear their company’s name.
“The allegations against Oryx made by the UN panel in their report are completely baseless,” said Geoffrey White, Oryx’s deputy managing director. “Oryx can produce documentation to refute all the allegations, however the panel is not required to produce any documents to substantiate their allegations.”
White noted that Oryx successfully won an apology from the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) after it could not back up a report last year that said the company worked with al-Qaida.
“Although great damage was done, at least the legal process allowed Oryx the opportunity to clear our name,” he said. “The BBC apologized unreservedly, was unable to provide evidence for their report, and accepted full liability for having run a defamatory story. How does one tackle a UN report containing errors?”
According to the UN document, Oryx transports illegal diamonds via Sengamines, a Congo-based firm in which Oryx holds a 49 percent interest. The report said Oryx acts as a front for a company owned by Zimbabwe’s army and one of its executives has made illegal campaign contributions to a Zimbabwean politician. White denied all the charges.
Oryx also was linked to the conflict trade in a recent report published by the Spanish newspaper El Pais.