Global Policy Forum

Belgium Accused Continuing

Panafrican News Agency
April 24, 2001

The Belgian mining marketing town of Antwerp has continued to buy diamonds from the rebel National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), according to a secret report released by the General Intelligence Service. The Belgian press on Monday quoted the report, which indicated that the sale of "blood diamonds" had continued despite the institution of a certificate of origin for diamonds originating from the civil war torn Angola.

The head of the working group on diamond trade, Peter Saverys told journalists at the ministry of foreign affairs in Brussels that Belgian justice system has been asked to investigate how the document was leaked. The leaked document says that UNITA would have not survived as an armed group without the powerful diamond sale network established in Antwerp. "Belgians play a predominant role in the trafficking of arms, goods and diamonds for UNITA", the Belgian secret service report points out, adding that the funds for the purchase of UNITA's arms comes from the same source as that of the Lebanese Hezbollah and Amal terrorist organisations.

The Secret Intelligence Service report noted that illegal diamond trafficking goes hand in hand with drug trafficking and money laundering. It cites companies like De Beers and countries like Great Britain and Canada as beneficiaries of this illegal UNITA diamond trafficking. It also mentions people like Maurice Tempelsman whose company buys UNITA's diamonds which are then transported to London and Antwerp through Tel Aviv.

The report indicates that in 1999 and 2000, a certain David Zollman exported uncut diamonds worth 151 million Belgian francs (1 US dollar = 46 Belgian francs) to Israel. Diamonds from Zolman that were cut in the United States were later sold at 270 dollars per carat. Out of this 70 dollars from each carat was paid to UNITA leader, Jonas Savimbi, the document added.

The report was published two days before the opening on Wednesday of an international conference on diamonds involving 43 countries, including the seven most industrialised countries of the world and Russia or G8 and 17 African countries. The G8 leaders had called for such a conference during their July 2000 summit in Okinawa, Japan in a bid to curb the illegal trafficking of diamonds which have been identified as the source of funds to finance civil wars in Africa. The purpose of the Brussels conference is to set up an international diamond certification and control system. Southern African countries had taken the initiative in May 2000 to launch what is called as the "Kimberley process." Kimberley hosted the first conference on the marketing of "blood diamonds."

During Monday's press conference Peter Saverys revealed that Brussels will organise the first of a series of five conferences. The four others would be held in Moscow, London, Luanda and Gaborone.

During the conference in Gaborone next December, ministers are expected to sign an agreement establishing an international diamond certification and control system. Diamonds represent 7 percent of Belgium's total exports and 1.5 percent of its Gross Domestic Product.

Over 90 percent of the raw diamonds extracted in various parts of the world are sold in Antwerp while over 50 percent of the world's cut diamonds pass through the Antwerp market.

Angola and Sierra Leone are the only African countries that have certificates of origin for their diamonds while no UN embargo has been slapped on diamonds from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

More Information on Angola
More Information on Diamonds in Conflict


FAIR USE NOTICE: This page contains copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Global Policy Forum distributes this material without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. We believe this constitutes a fair use of any such copyrighted material as provided for in 17 U.S.C § 107. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.