India holds pair over $2m Marange gems

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India’s Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) has arrested two people for allegedly smuggling a consignment of diamonds from Zimbabwe valued at over $2 million.

According to reports from India, Zohra Desai (53) and Prema Desai (49) were caught in Surat with a 48 663-carat (9,72kg) consignment of rough diamonds valued at Rs 10,17 crore (about US$2 million), sourced from Zimbabwe. They were trying to sell them in Surat.

“The duo recently arrived in Mumbai from Nairobi, Kenya, and had come to Surat by road from Navsari. They failed to produce the mandatory Kimberley Process certificate for the roughs,” a DRI official told Indian media at the weekend.

This is the second major haul of diamonds smuggled from Zimbabwe intercepted in Surat by DRI over the last three years.

Two foreigners – Robai Hussain of Guyana and Yusuf Ossely of Lebanon — were arrested by DRI in September 2008.

Diamonds worth about US$1 million were recovered from the duo. They were sentenced to four years in prison.

Surat, the state capital of Gujarat and one of the world’s leading diamond trading centres, concluded a US$1,2 billion rough diamond supply deal with a Zimbabwean consortium.

In December last year, two Israelis were arrested at Ben Gurion Airport, Tel Aviv, in possession of rough diamonds worth $140 000 believed to be from Chiadzwa.

The European Union and the United States have been clamouring for the banning of the diamonds from Chiadzwa arguing they were “bloody” but such accusations have been shot down by India and China which appear to have succeeded in softening the stance of the Western powers.

The Zimbabwean government also dismissed the allegations saying they had “over-complied” with requirements.