Antwerp Diamond Boss Admits He Campaigned for Lifting of EU Sanctions on Mugabe Firm

Belgium’s Antwerp World Diamond Centre boss Ari Epstein has sensationally admitted that the world’s biggest diamond exchange actively campaigned for the premature removal of European Union sanctions on the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation, an army-controlled outfit accused by human rights groups of funding Robert Mugabe’s terror campaigns against the opposition in the country.
“We were instrumental in the lifting of sanctions against ZMDC,” Epstein told Bloomberg in an interview published Monday.
Epstein was in Zimbabwe to participate in meetings aimed at raising funds for the bankrupt Mugabe government.
International human rights groups led by Global Witness accused the EU of lifting the ban on Zimbabwean diamonds from the European market solely for financial reasons as Mugabe’s human rights abuses and election rigging, which triggered the sanctions, were continuing.
The EU claimed when the ban was lifted in September 2013 that the human rights situation in the country had improved, a position condemned by critics and the U.S. government, which maintains a ban on Zimbabwean gems.
“The admission by AWDC that they fought for the removal of the sanctions while the situation in the country deteriorated is shameful to say the least,” analyst Chris Mitchell told NOW DAILY. “The unbridled quest for profit by AWDC and the EU amid rampant plunder of Zimbabwe’s diamonds shows that they have no conscience. They may benefit in the short-term from doing business with the Mugabe regime, but customers in major markets like the U.S. are now very sensitive about the origin of the gems they purchase and the conditions under which they are mined. Clearly, Zimbabwe’s diamonds are being produced under chaotic conditions controlled by very corrupt army generals who don’t even pay tax and are terrorising villagers who have been evicted from their homes without compensation. Even some members of the Zimbabwean government are unhappy about this.”
Mark van Bockstael, the centre’s business intelligence officer and an assessor for the Kimberly Process, claimed falsely, that Zimbabwe had changed.
“The situation is much more mature now,” he said. “As far as the Kimberley Process is concerned Zimbabwe has returned to normalcy.”
Activists, however dispute this assessment, based on current developments. A Zimbabwean Parliamentary report in 2013 cited massive theft of diamonds and maladministration, while the Centre for Research and Development recently reported serious ongoing rights violations and smuggling of choice stones by executives who have set up massive business empires from the proceeds of stolen diamonds. Global Witness has since pulled out of the Kimberly Process to protest Zimbabwe’s participation.


One thought on “Antwerp Diamond Boss Admits He Campaigned for Lifting of EU Sanctions on Mugabe Firm

  1. Pingback: Antwerp Diamond Boss Admits He Campaigned for Lifting of EU Sanctions on Mugabe Firm | kingdomtv

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s