By Peter Bolder|
President Robert Mugabe’s wife Grace smuggled nearly $1 billion worth of Marange diamonds from poverty-stricken Zimbabwe in 2013, a newspaper reported.
Quoting secret Central Intelligence Organisation documents obtained clandestinely, the MailOnline said Grace achieved this with the help of British billionaire criminal Nicholas Van Hoogstraten, a fugitive from UK justice given asylum in Zimbabwe by Mugabe.
“The documents claim that more than $750 million worth of diamonds were smuggled out the country by Grace last year, using crooked middlemen in Dubai, South Africa and India,” the paper said. “The gems were taken from the Marange diamond field in the remote south east of Zimbabwe, where ‘hard stones’ were so common that small boys used them for hunting birds with catapults and is now a military zone following the discovery of vast diamond deposits. Chinese companies were allowed by Mugabe to plunder the fields in return for weapons. Hoogstraten is already working with the Chinese middle-men organising the smuggling but wants more.”
The paper singled out Hoogstraten as the master-mind of an elaborate criminal plan involving vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa, to raise funds for Grace Mugabe and position her to take over from her husband, who turns 91 in February, but is already greatly weakened by prostate cancer.
“This British criminal is part of a gang of unsavoury characters hoping that, by bankrolling Grace, they will be rewarded by plunder of the country’s natural resources, which include a diamond field believed to be the biggest in the world,” MailOnline said.
Hoogstraten’s spokesman denied the allegations while, typically, Grace Mugabe did not respond to questions.
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