|Following a report published on Monday this week by the NGO Global Witness, which claimed that European sanctions against Zimbabwe during the period December 2013 to September 2014 may have been violated, the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) has issued a press statement denouncing the accusations.
The Global Witness report, entitled An Inside Job - Zimbabwe: The State, The Security Forces, and a Decade of Disappearing Diamonds, asks:
"Were EU Sanctions Violated By Antwerp Tenders? Global Witness believes the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC), the Antwerp Diamond Tender Facility (ATF), and First Element Bvba likely violated EU sanctions when facilitating the trade of Anjin's diamonds on at least three occasions between December 2013 and September 2014."
The full text of the AWDC press release follows below:
ANTWERP DIAMOND CENTRE DENOUNCES ACCUSATIONS: CONTROLS DID NOT FAIL
Antwerp, 11 September 2017 - The Antwerp World Diamond Centre denounces accusations made by Global Witness earlier today regarding three shipments of diamonds from Zimbabwe which were traded in Antwerp between December 2013 and September 2014.
According to Global Witness, European sanctions that are enforced against Zimbabwe may have been violated, because of the sale of three shipments of Zimbabwean diamonds in Antwerp, which may have indirectly benefitted the ZDI (Zimbabwe Defence Industries).
Global Witness claims ZDI may be shareholder of Anjin, the Chinese company that sold Zimbabwean goods in Antwerp.
Global Witness makes these claims based on a statement by the Zimbabwean State Secretary for Mines, Gift Chimanikire (MDC), in the Zimbabwean parliament in December 2012. The statement was dispelled a month later, by the Minister of Finance, Tendai Biti (MDC). The company Anjin itself was never on the European sanctions list.
The Antwerp World Diamond Centre, representing the Antwerp diamond industry, strongly denounces all the accusations made by Global Witness.
Ari Epstein, CEO AWDC: "When the European Union decided in September 2013, to lift the sanctions on Zimbabwe, AWDC took several initiatives before deciding whether or not the Zimbabwean goods could be traded on the Antwerp market:
- First and foremost AWDC initiated an investigation into the structures behind mining company Anjin and other mining companies active in Marange and Chimanimani. The results of this investigation revealed there was no indication that the legal entity ZDI was co-owner of Anjin.
- AWDC also requested the Kimberley Process, the collaborating organisation between industry, governments and NGO's, including Global Witness until 2011, whether or not diamonds, bought in Zimbabwe (Harare) were allowed to be imported under the existing KP conditions. The KPCS's response to this request was positive.
- The AWDC explicitly asked the European Union whether Zimbabwean goods could be imported to Antwerp and paid for. The European Commision responded positive to this inquiry.
Therefore, AWDC is convinced all due diligence was performed adequately with sufficient guarantees that only conflict-free diamonds, conforming fully with EU sanctions policies, were traded in Antwerp. On a daily basis, some 550 shipments of diamonds are being processed in Antwerp. Despite the accusations made by Global Witness are unjust, it is correct that it is critical that each and every shipment is controlled in detail. These extensive controls are an absolute priority for Antwerp.