A senior government diamond valuator in Joburg has accused his bosses of blocking his investigation into diamond giant De Beers – and then firing him to shut him up. Conrad Benn, the country’s first black diamond valuator, has launched an urgent application in the high court in Joburg to challenge the South African Diamond and Precious Metals Regulator’s decision to suspend him in April last year and fire him last month. He claims De Beers is sidestepping its obligations to benefit local companies (beneficiation) by selling most of its diamonds to a single offshore company - Ascot Diamonds.
“Of the 40 percent of the gross value of the production cycle to beneficiaries in South Africa, 35 percent was sold to one customer, being Ascot Diamonds (Pty) Ltd. Ascot Diamonds is part of a group of companies owned by a major worldwide diamond entrepreneur, Beny Steinmetz." De Beers is exempt from getting permission to sell its diamonds overseas if it can show that for any of its sales exceeding R5 billion, at least 40 percent of it benefited local companies.