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US Diamond Trading Group Bans Zimbabwe's Marange Diamonds Despite Kimberly OK

The New York-based Rapaport Diamond Trading Network said that even if trading Marange diamonds is theoretically legal following their Kimberly certification, those buying or selling such diamonds could face US or European sanctions

An international network of diamond dealers and buyers has instructed its members to boycott diamonds from the Marange district of Zimbabwe, threatening to expel and blacklist anyone who violates the ban.

The New York-based Rapaport Diamond Trading Network issued a statement saying that even if trading Marange diamonds is now legal following their certification by the Kimberly Process, anyone possessing or selling the diamonds could face sanctions by the United States and the European Union for doing so. The organization said it is not clear that the serious human rights violations alleged to have occurred in Marange have been stopped.

Some 900,000 carats of Marange diamonds were sold on Wednesday under the supervision of the Kimberly Process and a major accounting firm for a reported US$72 million. Finance Minister Tendai Biti said Friday, however, that the funds realized from the Harare International Airport auction was reduced to $46 million after reconciliation.

Biti said the government will be lucky to get US$15 million from the auction when all is said and done.

The RapNet diamond network is telling its members to demand written confirmation from sellers that diamonds being purchased are not from Marange. “Rapaport strongly advises all diamond buyers not to trade in KP certified Marange diamonds and to request written assurance from their suppliers" that Marange is not the source.

“RapNet will not allow the trading of any diamonds sourced from Marange, Zimbabwe," the statement said.

"Members found to have knowingly offered Marange diamonds for sale on RapNet will be expelled and their names will be publicly communicated."

Human Rights Watch researcher Tiseke Kasambala said the network’s ban can affect the sale of diamonds from the Marange alluvial field because it connects many of the largest diamond players in the world.

But economist and political analyst Rejoice Ngwenya said the ban is not likely to have much impact now that Marange diamonds have been certified by the Kimberly Process and sold into the world market.

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