Congress Urges Diamond Sanctions; U.N. Explores Terrorist Links


May 29, 2002

Congress Urges Diamond Sanctions; U.N. Explores Terrorist Links

Members of the U.S. Congress introduced a resolution urging the United Nations Security Council to impose sanctions on uncertified diamonds from the Democratic Republic of Congo, similar to embargoes already in place on all diamonds from Liberia and rebel-mined diamonds from Sierra Leone and Angola. The DRC is the only major diamond-producing and -exporting African nation that hasn't been penalized for its role in the conflict diamond crisis.

Meanwhile, the U.N. released a report saying it is still investigating claims that terrorist groups like al Qaeda are diversifying financial portfolios into gold, diamonds and precious gems – lapis lazuli and sapphires were cited specifically. Though $103.8 million in terrorist assets have been frozen since the Sept. 11 attacks, the U.N. report estimates between $500 billion and $1 trillion is laundered each year by terrorists.

Though the report emphasized links between terrorist money laundering and precious materials had yet to be substantiated, it recognized how easily the trade could be abused in this manner.

The U.N. and the World Diamond Council, the industry-based group working to regulate the international trade in diamonds, strongly urged the Kimberley certification system to go forward as quickly as possible to fight infiltration of the diamond trade by all criminal elements. The Kimberley system is expected to be implemented late this year.

by Peggy Jo Donahue

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