In what appears to be the first prosecution of its kind, Stanley Tipton, a 45-year-old Ohio resident, pleaded guilty to violating the Clean Diamond Trade Act in the Middle District of Florida federal court.
The Clean Diamond Trade Act, passed in 2003, says that diamonds cannot be imported into or exported from the United States unless they are accompanied by documents from the Kimberley Process, the international certification scheme meant to control conflict diamonds.
According to the plea agreement and other facts presented at the plea hearing, in 2019, Tipton engaged in a series of discussions with an undercover Homeland Security Investigations special agent, who was posing as a broker interested smuggling up to 100 carats of diamonds into the United States.
Tipton allegedly told the agent that he had contacts in Tanzania and Namibia and could arrange for the purchase of KP certificates to “legitimize” the smuggled diamonds. When the agent told Tipton that he preferred a certificate from Tanzania or Sierra Leone, Tipton told him that he would need additional money to “grease” people on the ground in Africa.
Ultimately, Tipton provided the agent with what appeared to be two Kimberley Process documents, one that bore the purported seal of the Guinea Ministry of Mines and Geology, and the other was said to be from the Sierra Leone Ministry of Mineral Resources. However, both certificates were false and fraudulent documents, according to a statement from the U.S. Department of Justice.
Tipton was originally indicted in January 2019 and pleaded guilty on Sept. 30. He faces 10 years in prison. His sentencing date has not been set.
“This investigation and prosecution sets an international precedent regarding the Clean Diamond Trade Act,” said director of Homeland Security Tampa acting special agent in charge Kevin Sibley in a statement.
Tipton’s attorney declined comment to JCK.
(Image courtesy of the Kimberley Process)Follow JCK on Instagram: @jckmagazine
Follow JCK on Twitter: @jckmagazine
Follow JCK on Facebook: @jckmagazine