Update on Zimbabwe

Some updates on the Zimbabwe situation:

– One of the interesting aspects of this, which has been
touched upon in the statements from RapNet
and Jewelers
of America
, is that certain Zimbabwe government-linked companies involved
in the recent sale of goods from Marange remain under U.S. sanctions, as
administered by the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). 

That means, from my understanding, that if an American
company bought diamonds in that sale, or if an overseas company used an
American bank in those transactions, they could be found in a violation of
those sanctions. It’s even possible that banks’ OFAC software may prevent them
from occurring. 

Some provisos: This may not be an issue, since most of the
buyers were said to be from India and Dubai. And this does not appear to apply
to people who buy goods from other parts of Zimbabwe, as long as the companies aren’t on that OFAC list, or “downstream” purchasers of
Zimbabwe diamonds (meaning buying
those goods is okay, as long as you don’t do it directly.) But please consult your attorney if you want more clarification.

A spokeswoman for OFAC bumped JCK’s inquiries to this
page.

– Meanwhile, veteran conflict diamond activist Ian Smillie,
whose book is coming out soon, writes it that all is not going swimmingly with
the KP review mission’s latest visit to Zimbabwe. 

[The Review Mission was] dogged at
every step by secret police; they were insulted and abused by the [Zimbabwe
mining] Minister; the promised forensic audit of the old stockpile was not
done; the plan to appoint an NGO person to accompany [KP monitor Abbey] Chikane
has been scrapped – or at least has been understood by the minister as the
appointment of someone he chooses. 
… [T]here was plenty of evidence of illicit diamonds. 

The fact that it is all so
hush-hush is another example of KP failings – a little transparency would go a
long way, and when a government minister says the
things that
[Zimbabwe mining minister Obert] Mpofu says, they should be
reported in the NY Times. The man is a disgrace.

You may remember the review mission was part of the deal
signed in St. Petersburg. The way it’s looking, we are going to see Zimbabwe/KP
crisis #3 pretty soon …

UPDATE: Edahn at Idex basically confirms some of what Smillie has said, but with a somewhat different perspective.

JCK News Director