By: Emmanuel wise Jipoh
The Assistant Minister of Mines at the Ministry of Mines and Energy (MME) Emmanuel T.T. Swen, who has been at the center of a 53.3-carat diamond here, has broken silence here for the first time, distancing himself from the precious stone.
The diamond in question was recently found in Gbarpolu County, by a group of miners headed by a fisherman identified as Mohammed Kamara, alias “Iron Jacket” at claim Number#9 Diamond Creek in the county.
Last week Thursday, protesters stormed President George Weah’s Jamaica Resort along the Robertsfield highway in Paynesville, demanding the dismissal of Assistant Minister Emmanuel TT. Swen, who they accused of holding hostage their wealth.
But commenting for the first time on Monday, June 5, 2023, at CEIO, a local intellectual forum in Monrovia, Assistant Minister Swen dismissed allegations that he is in possession of the diamond.
“There has been no diamond in my possession; the man who found his diamond has given the diamond to a broker. Baku (only) took the diamond to the dealers of Diamond Association for the Ministry to see it. (He) has his diamond, not me”, Minister Swen said.
“There is no safe at the Ministry of Mines and Energy to keep diamonds, and we have not kept a diamond before at the Ministry,” Swen said, wondering how possible it would be for him to keep a diamond that is being investigated and clouded with controversies at his house, “is frustrating to heard people say.”
According to Minister Swen, when the diamond was found in Gbarpolu County on Friday, April 21, 2023, it was the President of Liberia Diamond Dealers Association, Mustapha Tunkara, who brought it to the Ministry of Mines for authorities to see and proceed with investigation since there was controversy regarding who actually found the diamond.
He says it was at this time, he asked Mr. Tunkara to keep the diamond in his possession, but he (Tunkara) told him that he could not keep a diamond that is surrounded by controversy.
Swen continues that the diamond was then brought to Monrovia by a broker only identified as Barku (Konneh) on the permit of several parties, including Mr. Mohammed Kamara, alias Junior Jack for the ministry to see.
According to him, there would have been serious confusion if his team members had not seen Barku with the diamond upon his return.
He explained that the controversial diamond was placed in the care of the Liberia Diamond Brokers Association for proper surveillance.
Explaining further, Minister Swen revealed that the Ministry of Mines and Energy has since concluded its investigation and turned over the diamond to its legitimate owner, without clearly stating who this legitimate owner is.
But Mohammed Kamara, alias “Iron Jacket” has claimed ownership of the diamond.
When contacted late Monday, Mohammed refuted that the diamond has been turned over to him, as alleged by the minister.
He accused Minister Swen of giving the diamond to Broker Barku to keep.
According to him, Barku was instructed to give them US$100,000 to forget the diamond, but eventually, he said the broker allegedly gave them US$88,000 which they rejected and instead, demanded that they wanted their diamond back.
Mr. Kamara expressed dissatisfaction about the amount given to him and his team, saying “They gave me US$88,000 as a bonus for my 53.3-carat diamond; this is unfair.”
“I need my diamond, so we can have a real way of selling the diamond. We can’t sell diamonds without miners and the government”, he laments.
Similarly, Ma Fatu Borbor, owner of the mine where the diamond was reportedly found, cries out to Minister Swen to return the diamond to Mohammed Kamara, who she described as her brother-in-law.
“I am appealing to our President, George Weah, to come to my rescue by returning to me my diamond discovered in my creek”, she demands.
Madam Borbor: “We need our diamond. I am crying on President George Manneh Weah to intervene so that [it] will benefit the district and county at large. This is a life-changing opportunity for me and my children.”
However, Assistant Minister Swen says the Ministry of Mines and Energy had only tried to protect the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, which states that no one can be an owner of precious stone or mineral without possessing certification license and that all minerals in the country belong to the Government of Liberia.
He reiterates that the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme under the Clean Diamond Trade Act that was signed into law on July 29, 2003, prohibits importation or exportation of rough diamonds from an unknown source unless it has been controlled through the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS), which the Ministry of Mines and Energy has tried to protect in the current diamond Saga. Editing by Jonathan Browne