GAO report: U.S. may be vulnerable to illicit trade of diamonds

Despite the implementation of the Kimberley Process, “Conflict diamonds” may still be entering the United States, the U.S. Government Accountability Office said.

In a report released Wednesday, the GAO said the United States, while doing a good job of strengthening the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme abroad, has a lot more work to do on the domestic side in order to stop illicit diamonds from entering the U.S., the world’s largest consumer market for diamond jewelry.

“Domestically, the U.S. systems for reporting rough diamond statistics and for controlling imports and exports of these diamonds are vulnerable to illicit trade,” the report said. “The United States has enhanced the quality of its rough diamond trade data by improving its collection processes, but work remains to be done. Also, the United States does not periodically inspect rough diamond imports or exports to ensure that the contents of the rough diamond parcels match the Kimberley Process certificates. In addition, the United States lacks an effective system for confirming receipt of imports—a Kimberley Process requirement for avoiding possible diversions of rough diamond imports. Finally, the United States has not had a plan for monitoring USKPA, but is developing and testing one.”

In 2003, 46 nations, including the U.S., began implementing the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme in order to curtail the trade of rough diamonds that had fueled violent conflict in African countries such as Liberia, Sierra Leone, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. To meet its obligation, The U.S. passed the Clean Diamond Trade Act.

The GAO’s report is an attempt to describe the framework established to implement the CDTA, examine the implementation of its domestic provisions, and look for ways the U.S. can help strengthen the KPCS.

The GAO recommendations to meet the enforcement requirements of the CDTA include:

* Improve the accuracy of the rough diamond trade data;

* Improve the processes for importing and exporting rough diamonds;

* Increase oversight of USKPA activities; and

For a copy of the report, visit www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-06-978.