Gemstones & Pearls/News
STS Jewels Removed from Sept. 11 Lawsuit
In other tanzanite news, fund raises $250,000 and industry task force leaders travel to Tanzania
Charges against STS Jewels, a jewelry manufacturer that deals in tanzanite, have been dropped from a lawsuit filed by relatives of three victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
The plaintiffs had sought an injunction to ban STS Jewels from selling tanzanite and forcing it to contribute all proceeds from past tanzanite sales to a court-supervised Sept. 11 victims relief fund. But the plaintiffs attorney later asked the judge to drop the STS charges, following the filing of a motion to dismiss by STS Jewels.
The rest of the lawsuit will continue, seeking $1 billion in damages from other defendants, including the Tanzanite Mineral Dealers Association, Osama bin Laden, the former Taliban government of Afghanistan, the Iraqi government and accused Sept. 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui.
The lawsuit followed Wall Street Journal reports saying sales of tanzanite supported al Qaeda cells in East Africa. The reports received global press coverage and were repeated by certain jewelry trade magazines. In early February, the U.S. State Department announced tanzanite trading played no part in funding the Sept. 11 attacks.
While we always felt confident there was nothing to the allegations, it feels very good to have the lawsuit behind us now, says Sunil Agrawal, CEO of STS Jewels. What makes it even better is that the suit was withdrawn with prejudice. That means the same plaintiff cannot file the same complaint again.
Meanwhile, members of a steering committee of the Tucson Tanzanite Task Force spent a week in the Arusha region of Tanzania, where the gemstone is mined. The committee comprises U.S. industry representatives working to implement the Tucson Tanzanite Protocols.
Among its activities, the committee examined the regions records detailing tanzanite production and internal trading and came away positive about the record-keeping. The Tanzanian Merelani Reconciliation Committee is next expected to submit a report on improving the orderliness of mining, establishing stable relations between small and large miners and developing an implementation plan for the Protocols.
The American Gem Trade Association also spearheaded the development of a tanzanite fund. Officials say $250,000 has been pledged so far for the Tucson Tanzanite Protocols and for promotion.
by Robert Weldon, G.G.