Tanzania seizes Petra’s diamonds
The Tanzanian government confiscates diamonds worth nearly $30m amid row over export gems’ value
The Tanzanian government says it has confiscated diamonds worth nearly $30m after accusing Petra Diamonds of having declared a lower value when trying to export the gems.
Petra had rebuffed concerns about the way its Williamson mine in Tanzania was operated as Tanzanian President John Magufuli’s focus swung to the country’s small diamond-mining sector from gold, ordering a review of the company’s mining contract with the government.
Magufuli also called on law enforcement agencies to investigate alleged underdeclared diamond exports.
The Tanzanian government shocked the country’s mining sector earlier in 2017 by slapping a $190bn tax bill on Acacia Mining, a gold miner with two mines in the country, for under-declared export revenues for 17 years. The $40bn tax bill and $150bn in interest and penalties was more than double the tax paid by the world’s top five gold miners since 2000, said Investec analyst Hunter Hillcoat.
The Williamson mine, 25% owned by the Tanzanian government, is small within Petra, producing 212,869 carats in the 2016 financial year out of a total 3.7-million carats, mainly from its four diamond mines in SA.
Finance Minister Philip Mpango said the diamonds extracted from the Williamson mine had been "nationalised".
The diamonds were seized in Dar es Salaam as they were being shipped to Belgium.
Tanzanian authorities said the documents from Williamson Diamonds estimated the value of the shipment at $14.7m, based on a lower declared weight, while in fact they were worth double the amount.