Diamonds / Industry / Legal

De Beers Team Meets White House Officials


Four De Beers executives met with U.S. government officials at the White House recently, as the company continued to lobby against a G7 sanctions proposal that would designate Antwerp as the sole entryway for importing diamonds into G7 countries.

On May 30, De Beers CEO Al Cook posted a photo on LinkedIn of himself and three other company execs at the White House. Pictured with Cook are Emma Wade-Smith, the former consul general for the U.K. embassy in Washington, D.C., who joined De Beers as senior vice president, government affairs, in February; De Beers’ chief of staff Morty Selelo; and Feriel Zerouki, senior vice president, corporate affairs.

“More diamonds are bought in the U.S. than in any other country,” Cook wrote on LinkedIn. “So one of my constant priorities is work[ing] with the U.S. government to ensure that De Beers Group’s diamonds are welcomed with open arms (and outstretched ring-fingers!)”

In Washington, “we had the opportunity to discuss how we track the journey of our diamonds all the way from mines in Botswana, Canada, Namibia and South Africa to ensure that consumers here have full confidence that they are purchasing an ethical stone that has done good at every point in its journey,” he continued. “Tracr, our digital blockchain, will enable people who buy a diamond sourced by De Beers to map out its individual pathway from a rough stone to a polished beauty. Not only will this meet the new import requirements for G7 countries, it will also allow us to share the diamond stories we are so proud of.”

De Beers spokesperson David Johnson tells JCK by email: “We regularly meet with a range of governments and government officials as part of our normal course of business. A De Beers team was over in the U.S. and had a meeting at the White House as part of those ongoing government engagement activities.”

Following the meeting, De Beers issued a new statement on G7 sanctions, asking that the current “sunrise period” be extended another 12 months “to give the industry time to adapt to new requirements.” The second batch of sanctions is scheduled to be imposed in September.

The European Union (EU) has said it is committed to designating Antwerp as the sole “rough node” for that market, though U.S. officials have reportedly become skeptical of the idea. Under the current sanctions plan, if importers want to sell diamonds to the EU, they will need to route the diamonds through Antwerp, along with blockchain-backed proof of non-Russian provenance. Antwerp World Diamond Centre recently said it supported opening other “nodes.”

(Photo courtesy of the White House)

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By: Rob Bates

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