Hawks target more illegal diamond dealers after multimillion-rand bust

2014-08-26 10:20

The Hawks expect to arrest more people linked to a multimillion-rand illicit diamond dealing syndicate.

“The operation, which includes raids and seizures, continues. At least 35 people are targeted through the operation,” Hawks spokesperson Paul Ramaloko said today.

He said 26 people, aged between 23 and 70, appeared in the Kimberley Magistrates’ Court and were granted bail of between R5 000 and R500 000.

The charges included money laundering and using unregistered premises as a diamond trading house. Four of them were women.

Ramaloko said the arrests were part of Project Darling, which was initiated in 2012 to eliminate illicit diamond trade with a specific focus on the Northern Cape and links to the rest of the country.

Cash amounting to more than R4.4 million, 66 diamonds, 16 digital scales, laptops, vehicles, two firearms, 282 rounds of ammunition and an elephant tusk were seized.

“We believe that the discovery of the tusk could lead to more illegal activities committed by the suspects,” Ramaloko said.

The raids were conducted in Johannesburg and Kimberley.

Ramaloko said in 31 transactions 490 diamonds were sold to the accused. These amounted to R43 million.

Twenty-three transactions comprising 76 diamonds amounting to R380 000 were purchased from the accused.

Charges of tax evasion would be added in due course, Ramaloko said.

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