The Russian mercenary Wagner group trades diamonds worldwide through a company based in the Central African Republic, according to an investigation conducted by the Belgian daily newspaper “De Standaard”. The report stressed that one of the recipient countries of the diamonds was Belgium.
The Wagner group, accused of war crimes including murder and rape in war zones around the world, is involved in the diamond trade. The Belgian newspaper’s reporters concluded this in cooperation with the European Investigative Collaborations (EIC), an investigative journalism project.
The Wagner group – suspected of committing war crimes in Ukraine – is believed to play a major role in the multi-million euro export of diamonds to Belgium. https://t.co/Pej1BMVN9M
— The Brussels Times (@BrusselsTimes) December 2, 2022
The economic activities of the Russian mercenaries are not very well known, however, they are quite extensive and include, among other things, the sale of precious stones from Africa, the daily noted.
The newspaper further states that Wagner’s group has been trading diamonds since 2019, using a company called Diamville, based in the Central African Republic. The company in question is thought to have been founded by associates of the Wagner group, which investigative reporters confirmed through several independent sources. The U.S. development cooperation agency USAID reports that Diamville is one of the four largest diamond exporters in the Central African Republic.
Much of the trade remains underground: most of the diamonds are smuggled through neighbouring Cameroon and Sudan, but some also pass through official channels, with export permits, De Standaard states.
Quantities and bans
The journalists found that Belgium received 296 carats of diamonds worth EUR 132,000 in 2019. “Sales from the Central African Republic account for less than one percent of Antwerp’s total diamond imports,” Tom Neys of the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC), a company that lobbies for diamond trading companies in Antwerp, told the newspaper.
Despite the introduction of successive packages of EU sanctions against Moscow after the country launched its aggression against Ukraine, the import of diamonds from Russia has so far not been banned.