18 December 2017

Africa: Sierra Leone Pastor to Get Less Money for Giant Diamond

Photo: Rapaport Group
The Peace diamond.

Freetown — The pastor who found Sierra Leone's giant 'Peace Diamond' will not receive the entire proceeds from its sale because he was operating illegally, the government has said.

The National Minerals Agency (NMA), which oversaw the sale of the 706 carat diamond said to be one of the largest precious stones to be discovered in the country, said Pastor Emmanuel Momoh held no licence, in contravention of the Mineral's Act.

LICENCE

The pastor will, however, receive 40 per cent of the proceeds and the rest would go to the government.

The gem, which was sold earlier this month in New York for $6.5 million after several months of auction, was found in a village in the diamond-rich eastern Kono District.

The Director-General of the minerals regulatory agency, Mr Sahr Wonday, said the pastor engaged in mining while his application for a licence was being processed.

"They applied for one and the process was ongoing when they took to mining," Mr Wonday said, adding: "So technically, he did not own the diamond. The diamond belongs to the government of Sierra Leone."

MINING

Ninety nine per cent of artisanal miners in Sierra Leone operate without licences, according to NMA.

Often, someone with the ability to provide food and shelter sponsors groups of strong men to work for him, with the understanding that they give him whatever gem they discover.

NMA says the money from the sale of the giant diamond was kept in the government-owned Sierra Leone Commercial Bank, as the government engaged all stakeholders.

The agency said the proceeds would be shared according to the dictates of the Mines and Minerals Act.

PROMISES

The announcement was likely to occasion widespread displeasure in Kono where expectations have been high over the outcome of the auction.

Pastor Momoh had promised to undertake a number of development projects for the community using the proceeds.

It was unclear how the decision would impact his promises.

Sierra Leone

Court Orders Arrest of Presidential Candidate

A Sierra Leone court has ordered the arrest of an opposition presidential candidate on charges of contempt. Read more »

Copyright © 2017 The Nation. 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 600 reports a day from more than 140 news organizations and over 500 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.