US able claims WFDB VP boasted of involvement with Merange diamonds.
The World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFDB) has denied that its vice-president Ernest Blom dealt in rough diamonds from the Marange area of Zimbabwe after WikiLeaks published an incriminating cable sent by US ambassador for Zimbabwe James McGee.
In one of the cables, which were sent in 2008, it states that African Consolodated Resources chief executive Andrew Cranswick named Blom when describing the way in which illicit Merange diamonds were exported. Cranswick claimed that not only was Blom, who was then president of South Africa’s Diamond Merchants Association, involved in the illegal trade, he actually boasted about it.
WFDB president Avi Paz said: "Naturally, upon receiving these very disturbing allegations, I immediately contacted Mr Blom, and asked him to react. Mr Blom completely denied the accusations, saying it was ‘unsubstantiated hearsay’.”
In a letter to Paz Blom stated: "I categorically deny any illegal trading or [that I] boasted about it as Cranswick allegedly said in the dispatch. I had never travelled to Harare before I went up there as part of the KP review mission in 2007. I have only ever met Cranswick twice in my life. The last time [was] more than a year ago when he tried to elicit my assistance to get his mine back, which I declined."
The cable exposes many of the intricacies of the illegal trade of Merange diamonds, claiming that the stones, which have been mined by hand, are sold to a mix of Belgians, Israelis, Lebanese, Russians and South Africans. The cable claims that the stones are then smuggled to Dubai where they are sold at the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre Authority.