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Diamond cartels bay for Dubai firm's blood....as they go on a crusade to discredit the commodity trading firm.

The officials are facing allegations of stealing a package containing diamonds that was meant for shipping to the United Arab Emirates.

A CARTEL of diamond dealers have gone on a crusade to discredit diamond trading operations by a Dubai firm Erleen Gold Trading following the arrest of five Anjin Investment and Minerals Marketing of Zimbabwe officials over theft of diamond parcels at the RGM International Airport.

The officials are facing allegations of stealing a package containing diamonds that was meant for shipping to the United Arab Emirates.

Silas Chirume (54), MMCZ Diamond Inspector, Edward Jacob Gunda (62) who is employed by Anjin Investments at RGM International Airport as Assistant Security Manager, Maison Phiri (37), a Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe Diamond Evaluator, Steven Wahita (56) employed by Anjin investments at RGM International Airport as Security Supervisor and Isaac Muripa (37), a Detective Constable at CID MFFU Harare attached to RGM International Airport, are facing theft charges.

A senior government official who requested anonymity for fear of jeopardizing the ongoing case at the Magistrates Court said the twist in facts around the trading of diamonds in the country was a result of a diamond cartel that has for years been advocating for a trading system that is not transparent.

The official further noted that Erleen Gold Trading is only acting as an agent and all the diamond sale output is paid back to the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamonds Company (ZCDC) where the company has a binding partnership. The official further emphasized that it is not Erleen Gold Trading that is fixing the prices but the prices are coming from the market through the international tenders.

"For many years the sale of diamonds was done in Zimbabwe under shady conditions. Only a few companies were attending the tender and a cartel led by diamond dealers like Jamal Ahmed was controlling the full process," the source said.

"Nowadays the sale of the diamond is carried out in Dubai through public international tenders organized by DMCC's qualified tender house. We visited the facilities in Dubai and all the noise coming is a result of disgruntled diamond cartels that were shut out of the trading process. 

"Hundreds of companies are attending these tenders in Dubai and the process is very transparent and following the highest international standards," the government source added.

The government official noted that Erleen Gold Trading was just acting as an agent and all the diamond sale proceeds were channeled back to Zimbabwe.

"Erleen Gold Trading is not fixing the prices but prices are coming from the market through the international tenders. For the first time after years of darkness all the payments are done by proper bank telegraphic transfers and no cash is involved anymore," the source further noted.

The source added that this was the first time that Erleen Gold Trading purchased diamonds from Anjin when the theft took place. For almost two years now, the Dubai-based company has been dealing with ZDCDC in a transparent process.

"It is the first time that Erleen Gold Trading is purchasing from Anjin and according to your sources Anjin in the end will receive an average price of 20% higher than the last tender.

"Zimbabwe is facing a serious challenge of smuggling and the problem has been getting bigger each passing day. A lot of funds are being diverted illegally out of the country," the source said.

Disgruntled diamond middlemen and a cartel allegedly involving officials from MMCZ and ZCDC have been working hard to scupper the signed joint venture to sell Zimbabwean diamonds in Dubai.

The deal was signed about two years ago and was aimed at stamping out the operations of middlemen in the trading of Zimbabwean diamonds, eventually giving value to the country.

This, according to multiple sources, triggered a backlash from a cartel of middlemen that has been operating in cahoots with executives from MMCZ and ZCDC.

MMCZ is responsible for the marketing of most of the country's minerals except gold and platinum.

The trading of diamonds has been subject to controversy for years and has been fraught with allegations of capture by Lebanese diamond dealer Jamal Ahmed. 

The government blacklisted the diamond dealer in 2022.

This triggered a backlash from a cartel of middlemen that have been feasting from the lax diamond trading system and several accusations have been thrown around against the new diamond trading arrangement between Erleen Gold Trading and ZCDC.

“This is the first time seeing Zimbabwean diamonds being openly advertised on the international market,” a source at ZCDC said.

According to other information gathered, Erleen Gold is purchasing from ZCDC at the international market price and then customizing the stones for different potential customers in selected countries, and then the profits are shared with ZCDC. 

The Dubai-based company is acting as a financial, technical, marketing, and sales partner for ZCDC in the international markets by selling the stones through international public tenders.

 Efforts to get a comment from Erleen Gold were fruitless while ZCDC and MMCZ could not be reached for comment.

In 2021, Auditor-General Mildred Chiri revealed that both the MMCZ and ZCDC could not account for up to 350,000 carats of diamonds worth US$140 million which were kept in their repositories.

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