TANZANIA IN PURSUIT OF ILLEGAL DIAMOND DEALERS

DAR-ES-SALAAM, The Tanzanian authorities are in pursuit of former and current officials involved in the monitoring and sanctioning of diamond deals as directed by the Minister of Finance and Planning, Dr Phillip Mpango, following the discovery of under-valued diamonds impounded at Julius Nyerere International Airport here as the precious stones produced from the Mwadui Diamond Mine were about to be taken to Belgium.

The diamonds, impounded on Aug 31 a few minutes before the aircraft was to have left the country's global gateway and exported by Williamson Diamonds Ltd, were under-valued and pegged at 14.7 million US dollars against their market value estimated at 29.5 million USD.

The Director-General of the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB), Valentino Mlowola, said Sunday that investigations had since been launched as directed by the minister but declined to reveal further details, only pledging that the public would be informed at an appropriate time.

Both the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) Director for Taxpayer Services and Education, Richard Kayombo, and the Director of Public Prosecution, Biswalo Mganga, said the directives were being implemented as ordered by the finance minister.

The directives as issued by Mr Mpango (finance minister) are being implemented at this point I cannot comment anything.

But when the time is right the public will be duly informed, Kayombo said.

Dr Mpango who has received a report on the smuggled diamonds on behalf of President John Magufuli, ordered the arrest of former and current officers involved in monitoring and sanctioning of the diamond trade, including establishing the legality of their properties.

The finance minister ordered the police, PCCB and other law enforcement agencies to investigate the properties belonging to the suspects (of the impounded diamonds), with a view to establishing if they were legitimately acquired before confiscating them to compensate for the loss.

He also intimated that the government had confiscated the gemstones for violations of the East African Customs Management Act of 2004.

The finance minister also called upon the Bank of Tanzania (BoT) to come up with a special arrangement to start establishing mineral reserves, as do central banks in other parts of the world, instead of concentrating on monetary reserve alone.

The list of orders issued by the finance minister also included the purchase of modern weighing equipment to facilitate the sorting of gemstones in terms of weight to facilitate proper valuing.

These orders came just days after President Magufuli received two reports from two parliamentary select committees, separately detailing dubious deals involving diamond and Tanzanite, respectively.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK