8 April 2019

Namibia: Namdia Picks Sixteen Diamond-Buying Firms

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The state-owned Namdia will sell diamonds worth N$2 billion a year to 16 companies from Namibia, Belgium and Dubai, among others.

Namdia announced this in a statement published in newspapers on Friday, backtracking from a promise it made last year that their customers will not be revealed because of "safety" reasons.

According to the statement, the company selected the 16 firms which will buy diamonds from Namdia from 2019 to 2021.

Belgium and Namibia top the list with four firms each.

Namibian buyers are Schachter and Namdar Namibia, DYS Diamond Manufacturer Namibia, Tate Diamonds and Pluczenik Diamond Company.

Namdia's Belgian clients include IGC Group NV, Dev Jewels BVBA, Diamond Trading NV and Diamwill BVBA.

From Dubai are Dhamani Jewels DMCC, SBMH Group DMCC and Samir Gems DMCC, while S Vinod Kumar and Kapu Gems are from India.

Lieber and Solow Ltd, and Mellen Incorporated, are the buyers from the United States, while Levintal Diamonds Ltd from Israel is also picked as a Namdia buyer.

"In the selection of the clients mentioned above, Namdia received an overwhelming response, with over 70 applicants from across the globe," the announcement said.

Some of the requirements the firm looks at are having a good business reputation, financial stability, experience in the trade of natural rough diamonds, subscription to the Kimberley Process, and having enough money to pay for the gems.

Namdia earned a reputation of selling diamonds to secret buyers who were never made public when the parastatal started operating in 2016.

The Namibian continuously reported on this secrecy, which led to mines minister Tom Alweendo forcing Namdia to advertise the sale of diamonds publicly. Alweendo also questioned why the company was not being transparent about the sale of Namibian resources.

Former Namdia spokesperson Usi //Hoëbeb told The Namibian last year that their clients preferred to remain anonymous because they had received information that "unscrupulous elements" in society had targeted some of their clients in the past. He did not provide more details on this.

"Our clients have preferred to remain anonymous, and for their safety, we would not wish to compromise that," he stated. This secrecy fuelled concerns that Namdia was selling Namibian diamonds to Dubai cheaply.

Despite the latest transparency achievement, concerns about selling diamonds cheaply are likely to remain.

Namdia has been the subject of investigations since it was founded in 2016.

President Hage Geingob subsequently instructed public enterprises minister Leon Jooste to investigate the parastatal. Sources said Jooste completed his investigation, and submitted a report to Geingob in June last year. That report has not been made public.

Three people briefed about this matter said several officials close to Namdia reported incidents of corruption and the continued underpricing of Namdia diamonds to Alweendo last year.

Namdia has continuously denied allegations of corruption and the under-pricing of diamonds.

Namdia is a 100% state-owned company created through an agreement between the government and diamond multinational De Beers in 2016. The company serves as a diamond sales and marketing arm of the state.

According to the 10-year agreement between De Beers and the government, the partnership company known as Namdeb Holdings will channel 15% of its diamonds, worth around N$2 billion each year, to Namdia.

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