DDC Split Over License Controversy

It was a bold and ambitious move for a diamond club, but now it's mired in controversy. In January, the New York Diamond Dealers Club purchased a license from the Sierra Leone government to establish a rough buying office in that country. (The license covers only diamonds with government-issued certificates, not diamonds from rebel group RUF.) The license cost $25,000, but extras could increase it to as much as $40,000. The club set up a separate corporation, New York Diamond Dealers, to manage the proposed office. The purchase passed the club's board of directors handily on two occasions, but only after heated debate, and over the opposition of club president Jacob Banda. Now the project is stalled, with Banda reluctant to release money to hire on-site rough buyers. Opponents feel the office is too much for the club to handle, but supporters say the bickering has held things up. "

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