‘Kardiam’ – the Belgian arm of Central African Republic’s (CAR) diamond trading company BADICA, has been blacklisted by UN Sanctions Committee over alleged involvement of supporting and dealing with CAR’s armed group. Apart from blacklisting and making trades with the firm illegal, assets of the firm have also been freezed.
BADICA – one of CAR’s biggest diamond companies, made payments to Seleka leaders to illegally export diamonds out of the country. A former major exporter of diamonds, CAR was banned to ship its rough diamonds out of the country in May 2013 by Kimberley Process. BADICA however purchased around 1,100 carats of diamonds from Seleka group controlled mines during a year till March 2015 and made payments to the Seleka leaders to transport the blood diamonds out of CAR illegally.
Apart from Kardiam and BADICA, the UN Sanctions Committee has also imposed sanctions blacklist, global travel ban and asset freeze on 3 individuals linked to the three-year-old conflict in CAR – Alfred Yekatom, also known as Colonel ‘Rambo’, anti-balaka militia leader; Habib Soussou, anti-balaka commander; and Oumar Younous, former Seleka general and a Sudanese diamond smuggler who is known to be close to former president Michel Djotodia. These militia leaders are accused of inciting violence, ethnic cleansing and leading a rampant ethnic war in CAR. Last year, in May 2014, UN had blacklisted former president Francois Bozize; a Seleka leader Nourredine Adam; and anti-balaka militia leader Levy Yakete.
The U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) also imposed sanctions on these 3 militia leaders, freezing their assets in US territories and prohibiting anyone from US to engage in any transactions with them.
The recent sanctions by UN and OFAC are a proof that blood diamonds not just still exist but are also very much in circulation in the industry pipeline and BADICA and Kardiam may be just a tip of the iceberg.