Illegal Diamond Trafficking Widespread in Tanzania – Report

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(Rapaport…October 31, 2004) Illegal diamond trafficking and the sale of fake diamonds has become widespread in the Shinyanga region of Tanzania, the Guardian newspaper reported Friday.

The value of gemstones smuggled out of Tanzania was estimated at $370 million dollars, the personal assistant to President Sadikiel Kimaro recently said.

Members of the diamond industry fear that if illegal diamond trafficking is not stopped, the country may be penalized.

“If illegal diamond trafficking goes on unabated, Tanzania risks being excluded from the Kimberly Process,” a senior official of William Diamonds Ltd. in Shinyanga said.

Tanzania is a signatory to the ‘Kimberly Process’, an international system for the prevention of the trade in “conflict diamonds”, or diamonds used to fund wars in Africa.

One diamond dealer in the Manganzo area, who requested anonymity, said the smuggling of the mineral is easy.

“A person can walk through the border with smuggled diamonds worth as much as $50,000 hidden in his pockets and underwear, and no officer at the border would even think of searching him,” he said.

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