New Venture in Angola
Israels Lev Leviev forms a diamond marketing venture with the Angolan government
Israeli diamond exporter Lev Leviev formed a joint venture with the government of Angola and several Belgian diamantaires to market all of Angolas government-certified diamonds.
Levievs action doesnt violate U.N. Resolution 1173, which prohibits the sale and export of diamonds by Angolas rebel force UNITA, because he will buy only diamonds from the legitimate government of Angola.
Leviev, Israels second largest diamond exporter and Russias largest diamond and jewelry manufacturer, owns substantial Angolan diamond holdings in the Cuango Valley.
The Angolan government recently reformed its system for certifying diamonds. It has promised stricter security procedures will prevent diamonds from UNITA from flowing through official government channels.
Reports from human-rights group Global Witness suggest UNITA will continue to control a large percentage of Angolas diamonds, however. These could end up being licensed and sold through the government with proper certificates of origin, the group worries.
Israeli business newspaper Globes says Leviev plans to market the diamonds through a series of yearly diamond tenders and permanent buyers not unlike De Beers diamond sight allocations. Its just too early to predict how everything will evolve, however, says Jeffrey Fischer, president of the Diamond Manufacturers & Importers Association of America.
by Robert Weldon, G.G.
Here are a few dates crucial to the Angolan diamonds debate.
Portugal controls and colonizes Angolas interior.
Guerilla war starts against Portuguese settlers
Angola gains its independence and is run by the MPLA (aided by the USSR and Cuba). UNITA forms as a Western-influenced opposition force.
Some 50,000 Cuban troops remain in Angola to protect the MPLA government from UNITA.
Cubans withdraw, a peace plan is drawn and multi-party elections are held. MPLA wins. UNITA disputes the results; civil war starts.
A fragile peace agreement is reached between the parties.
Half a million civilians are killed in fighting between the government and guerilla forces. UNITA earns $3.7 billion in illegal diamond sales (Source: Global Witness).
The United Nations adopts Resolution 1173 preventing the sale or export of diamonds by UNITA.
Global Witness launches a campaign to alert the public about the funding of rebel armies by illegal diamond sales in conflict zones in Africa.
De Beers says it will not buy even government-certified Angolan diamonds. Several mining companies say they will withdraw from Angola.
- Rep. Tony Hall (D-OH) introduces a bill seeking disclosure of the source of diamonds imported to the U.S. to identify diamonds from conflict zones.
- U.S. jewelry industry representatives meet with State Department officials and aides from Halls office to explain the industrys position.
- The New York Post and the Dallas Morning News pick up the African diamonds story.
- The International Diamond Manufacturers Association announces support of U.N. Resolution 1173.
The Diamond Manufacturers & Importers of America announces support for U.N. Resolution 1173.
- De Beers guarantees its rough is not from any area in Africa controlled by forces rebelling against legitimate governments. It also guarantees no rough diamonds in its sight allocations were purchased in violation of U.N. Resolution 1173.
- Israeli diamantaire Lev Leviev announces a venture with Angolas government to sell the governments certified rough diamonds.