Sierra Leonean “Diamond of Peace” sold $ 6.5 million
“Diamond of Peace” Sold for Sale by the Government of Sierra Leone $ 6.53 Million, December 4, 2017 in New York
The “Diamond of Peace” put on sale directly by the Sierra Leonean government was auctioned Monday at $ 6.53 million, a sale that must mark a break with the era of the famous “blood diamonds”.
The buyer is the British jeweler Laurence Graff, said at a press conference in New York, Martin Rapaport, president of the Rapaport Group, who organized the sale and pledged not to collect commission.
The 709-carat (about 140-gram) diamond was discovered in March by employees of a mining exploration company headed by Evangelical pastor Emmanuel Momoh in the Kono Diamond Province (east).
Pastor Momoh handed over the uncut diamond to the Sierra Leonean government, which pledged to sell it and return 26% of the proceeds of the sale, $ 1.69 million, of which $ 339,000 will go to the five employees. at the origin of the discovery.
The government also ensured that the remaining 74 percent would go to the tax administration (59 percent), as well as to the diamond development fund (15 percent).
The sale price is lower than that proposed at a first sale in April in Sierra Leone, or $ 7.1 million, operation canceled at the time by the government which had judged the amount insufficient.
“Maybe it’s the price of transparency,” Martin Rapaport commented on the downward adjustment.
The goal of President Ernest Bai Koroma and his government was to encourage exploration to break with the era of “blood diamonds”, these precious stones that have been used to finance conflicts in Africa, particularly in Sierra Leone ( 1991-2002), via traffic that escaped the authorities.
“This is a historic day for us,” said President Koroma’s spokesman Abdulai Bayraytay at the press conference.
“We have changed the story,” he continued, assuring that the proceeds from the sale of this diamond would “help transform the lives of the Sierre people.”
The latter do not ask for better: with the money offered for sale, the government should guarantee “water, electricity and good roads to the people,” claimed Gibril Sesay, a seller in Sierra Leone.
“The amount paid for the diamond was much lower than expected”, for its part regretted with AFP Beatrice Cole, an official who watched the auction in Freetown broadcast live on television.
“I think what I started will continue,” Momoh said at a press conference, encouraging others to emulate his approach.