International efforts to curb trade in diamonds for money laundering and terrorist financing

An international group of law enforcement agencies and other stakeholders are sponsoring efforts to curb the role diamonds play in money laundering and terrorist financing.

The sponsors, which include the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of the US, Europol, Interpol, the National Police of the Netherlands, the US state department and the World Customs Organisation are initially backing a forum on the issue in the Netherlands.

Illicit trade

Meetings will focus on the exploitation of the diamond trade and diamonds being used as a vehicle for trade based money laundering, terrorist financing, and other illicit purposes.

The forum aims to provide a platform for information sharing, networking, and building law enforcement partnerships that will lead to the identification, dismantling, and disruption of criminal networks associated with the illicit trade in diamonds.

War crimes

According to FBI supervisory special agent, Eric Ives, the US authorities have been “gradually realising” that diamonds are vulnerable to exploitation by criminals.

According to Ives, the issue only began to be taken seriously in the 1990s when the trade in so-called blood diamonds emerged during the downfall and trial of former Liberian president, Charles Taylor.

Taylor, who is now serving a 50 year jail term for war crimes, benefitted personally from diamonds mined illegally and used diamonds to facilitate the purchase of arms used in Sierra Leone’s civil war in the 1990s.

Al-Qaeda competition

Ives maintains that the authorities still have much to do in respect of the diamond trade and cites the case of Mokhtar Belmokhtar, the former Al-Qaida terrorist who left to form a competing group, eventually taking 800 hostages in Algeria.

Belmokhtar used diamonds and tobacco to finance his operations according to Ives.

Categories: Trade Based Financial crimes News

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