Leviev fails Namibian diamond cut

The Namibian government has refused to renew Lev Leviev Diamonds' license to buy diamonds.

Lev Leviev Diamonds (LLD) has failed to make the cut to apply for rough diamonds from Namibia Diamond Trading Company (NDTC), "The Namibian" reports.

NDTC spokesman Brent Eiseb said, "Due to intense competition for rough diamonds, NDTC is not in a position to meet the needs of all companies wishing to receive rough diamond supply from NDTC." He added that NDTC ran a selection process last year, which was overseen by its shareholders - the Namibian government and De Beers. The selection criteria were aimed at the long-term viability and sustainability of the cutting and polishing industry in Namibia.

LLD Namibia managing director Kombandayetu Kampwanga disputes the reasoning behind the rejection, and hopes that the company and NDTC will still reach an agreement. Earlier this week, after the Namibian government refusal to renew the company's five-year license to buy diamonds from NDTC, LLD sent its 150 employees home on unpaid indefinite leave. In May he said that the company had an annual turnover of $20 million and was not making a loss.

National Union of Namibian Workers secretary general Evilastus Kaaronda accused LLD of making an illegal retrenchment, and said that the union is "dealing with it."

According to "The Namibian," "LLD has been mired in controversy since January last year when the Police confiscated 1,825 diamonds, suspecting that they were not polished in Namibia because LLD employees could not present their manufacturing history to the Police."

Kampwanga says that the Police had not returned the confiscated diamonds, but that the confiscation "didn't really affect the business" as "there are things like insurance."

LLD denies that the confiscated diamonds were part of the system, and accuses an expatriate Israeli employee, Gabi Shitrit, of being behind the questionable package, saying that he wanted to steal them. Shitrit denies the charges, and has offered to return to Namibia to testify against LLD management provided the Namibian authorities provide him immunity against criminal prosecution.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on June 14, 2012

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2012

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