16 January 2013

Liberia: Investigate Diamond Smuggling Into Sierra Leone

Claims by alluvial diamond miners that Liberia was losing millions in diamond revenues through smuggling by Sierra Leonean miners that have infiltrated diamond fields across the porous common border into western Liberia must prick the consciences of relevant authorities to investigate the allegation.

This is necessary to depart from how Liberian authorities, for too long in the past, left concession companies without much scrutiny to extract only iron ore in mountains where they stumbled and collected other natural resources including diamonds, gold and other rare metals as well as valuable wood species found in those mountains.

Liberian mine workers, especially from Bong Mines and Yekepa, reminisced in many narrative accounts that Caucasian miners habitually stopped them from crossing certain points in the mountains, surveyed those areas for hours before allowing the Liberians to join them. Consequently, those Liberians strongly suspected that the Caucasians barred them because they secretly gathered gems, which the expats wanted no knowledge leaked to the Liberian miners.

And because the companies had some level of duty free privileges, their officials could easily evade customs and smuggle precious metals out of the country.

Similarly, authorities at the Forestry Development Authority are suspected of not being firm enough on restricting operators of forest concessions against harvesting endangered wood species and collecting gems found in valleys of those rainforests.

Now, Liberian alluvial diamond miners in Grand Cape Mount County alone are alarming mass infiltration of Liberian diamond fields by Sierra Leonean miners crossing the porous common border without hindrance through some 200 illegal diamond smuggling entry points.

The complainants alarm that more than 75 percent of diamonds extracted in Liberia's western region end up in neighboring Sierra Leone through illicit means, causing the Liberian government to lose millions of dollars in revenues.

"Too many diamonds are being illegally exported to Sierra Leone," local diamond brokers this week informed Lands and Mines Minister Patrick Sendolo during a tour of diamond mining sites in the country.

Diamond broker and mining agent, Mr. Joseph Stewart, blamed the situation on loose laws governing the diamond trade coupled with the lack of support to local mining agents and brokers.

We believe this complaint must claim the immediate attention of the relevant government agencies for thorough investigation and appropriate actions. It must not be shelved only to remain an unwarranted claim by less known Liberian alluvial miners. Their whistleblower act should be equated with their interest in the development and growth of the Liberian economy. Their ears are cocked


Copyright © 2013 New Democrat. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.