Sierra Leone ‘Divine Diamond’ Offered for Sale

One of the world’s largest diamond discovered in Sierra Leone has been put up for sale, the government announced.

The 709 carat uncut diamond found by an evangelic pastor earlier this month, is being sold by international tender, a public notice on Saturday indicates.

The Ministry of Mines and Mineral Resources pegged the fee for bidding documents at $5,000.

Bidders will also have to place a security of $50,000.

The precious stone dubbed ‘divine diamond’ due to its owner’s religious commitment, was discovered in the eastern Kono District, home of the two largest diamonds discovered in the country.

Persistent rumour

It is currently locked in a safe within the Central Bank of Sierra Leone. It will be on public display at the bank from Wednesday through to April 5.

The announcement of its sale comes at the backdrop of persistent rumour over it’s rightful ownership.

While some alleged that Pastor Emmanuel Momoh was not the rightful owner, others accused him of operating his artisanal mining company under an expired licence.

The Lebanese

Earlier in the week, the daily Global Times newspaper cited an unnamed source in the Mines ministry claiming the diamond belonged to the state because the pastor had been operating illegally when he found the stone.

The same paper reported a rivalry between a Kono-based Lebanese tycoon and an Israeli dealer over the rights to buy the stone.

The Israeli allegedly offered the influential local chief who handed over the diamond to President Ernest Bai Koroma $2 million in reward if he could convince the latter to sell the gem to him.

Impoverished region

But Pastor Momoh is believed to favour the Lebanese.

The stone has become the subject of discussion at almost every public space in Sierra Leone, a country known to many for a brutal 11-year civil war which ended in 2002.

The war was fuelled by the diamonds of Kono, a largely impoverished region.

Pastor Momoh has promised to use part of his money to plough back into the development of the district, including the establishment of a fitting church.

An argument ensued

One person was hospitalised last week after an argument ensued over the ownership of the stone. The victim is said to have angered his colleague with comments alleging that the president intended to cheat the owner of the diamond.

State House and the Mines Ministry have, however, reiterated their commitment to ensure a transparent process in the sale of the diamond.

The government has flown in an independent diamond valuator to evaluate it ahead of the much-anticipated sale expected to happen in two weeks time.

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Source: The East African

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