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Israeli diamond smuggler expelled
28/12/2010 00:00:00
by AP
 
Airport find ... Raw diamonds being processed
 
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ISRAEL'S Diamond Exchange says it has expelled a longtime member for attempting to smuggle illegal Zimbabwe blood diamonds into the country.

Spokesman Assaf Levin said Tuesday that the bourse expelled David Vardi after he was arrested at Israel's international airport last week with about $200,000 worth of illegal Zimbabwe stones.

He said his organisation "will not tolerate dealing in blood diamonds."

Zimbabwe is banned from exporting diamonds from Marange under the Kimberley Process, the 75-nation regulatory group that seeks to end the trade of so-called blood diamonds. Israel currently chairs the Kimberley Process.

The Israeli Tax Authority said customs officials randomly stopped a man named as Gilad Halachmi for inspection at the airport and found his pockets full of diamonds.

Halachmi is neither a member of the Israeli Diamond Exchange (IDE) nor is he involved in the diamond trade.

He told authorities that he had been asked to bring in the stones from Zimbabwe by Vardi, but was not told that he should declare the goods at customs.

Vardi was subsequently brought in for questioning where he confirmed that he requested Halachmi to bring in the diamonds, which he procured from a Lebanese diamond merchant while visiting Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe is in negotiations with the Kimberley Process to certify production from its Marange fields.


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