AWDC Attacks Global Witness On Zimbabwe Diamonds Traded In Antwerp

The Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) has strongly refuted accusations made by Global Witness earlier today regarding three shipments of diamonds from Zimbabwe which were traded in Antwerp between December 2013 and September 2014.

According to Global Witness, European sanctions that are enforced against Zimbabwe may have been violated, because of the sale of three shipments of Zimbabwean diamonds in Antwerp, which may have indirectly benefitted the ZDI (Zimbabwe Defense Industries).

Global Witness claims ZDI may be shareholder of Anjin, the Chinese company that sold Zimbabwean goods in Antwerp.

"Global Witness makes these claims based on a statement by the Zimbabwean State Secretary for Mines, Gift Chimanikire, in the Zimbabwean parliament in December 2012. The statement was dispelled a month later, by the Minister of Finance, Tendai Biti. The company, Anjin, itself was never on the European sanctions list.

"The AWDC, representing the Antwerp diamond industry, strongly denounces all the accusations made by Global Witness.

Ari Epstein, the CEO of AWDC, said: “When the European Union decided in September 2013, to lift the sanctions on Zimbabwe, the AWDC took several initiatives before deciding whether or not the Zimbabwean goods could be traded on the Antwerp market:

1. First and foremost AWDC initiated an investigation into the structures behind mining company Anjin and other mining companies active in Marange and Chimanimani. The results of this investigation revealed there was no indication that the legal entity ZDI was co-owner of Anjin.

2. AWDC also requested from the Kimberley Process, the collaborating organization between industry, governments and NGO’s, including Global Witness until 2011, whether or not diamonds, bought in Zimbabwe (Harare) were allowed to be imported under the existing KP conditions. The KPCS’s response to this request was positive.

3. The AWDC explicitly asked the European Union whether Zimbabwean goods could be imported to Antwerp and paid for. The European Commission responded positive to this inquiry.

"Therefore, AWDC is convinced all due diligence was performed adequately with sufficient guarantees that only conflict-free diamonds, conforming fully with EU sanctions policies, were traded in Antwerp.

"On a daily basis, some 550 shipments of diamonds are being processed in Antwerp. Despite the accusations made by Global Witness being unjust, it is correct that it is critical that each and every shipment is controlled in detail. These extensive controls are an absolute priority for Antwerp."