By S.U. Thoronka.
The Director General of the National Mineral Agency (NMA), Sahr Wonday at a press briefing last week, gave an update on the sale of the Peace Diamond in New York on the 4th December 2017.
He said the diamond which weighed 709.41 carats was found in Koryardu Village, Tankoro Chiefdom in Kono District on Tuesday 14th March 2017.
He informed that on the instruction of President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, the diamond was put on sale by international tender at the Bank of Sierra Leone Complex Kingtom on the 11th May 2017.
He said none of the bids submitted matched the reserved price and that the highest bid submitted then was USD 7.077,777 which he noted was erroneously published and reported as USD 7.8 million.
The Director General NMA further informed that the valuation of the diamond was done through a tripartite method or process; values were submitted by the owner, NMA after examining the diamond and the independent valuers, the Agency would then accept the highest of the three valuers as the value for royalty computation.
In the case of the 709 carats diamond, Mr. Wonday said the values arrived at by the three parties prior to the tender were, NMA USD 7 million, Independent valuers USD 5.8 and Pastor Momoh and team USD 30 million. He said even though Pastor Momoh’s value was unrealistic based on social media hype, the Agency refused to sell, the diamond below his reserved price in order not to fuel speculations of deliberate undervaluation.
“As a result, government decided to explore the possibility of having a similar bidding exercise in one of the renowned diamond markets in the world including Antwerp, Tel Aviv or New York, and encouraged all the bidders to review their bids up words and participate in the next bidding round”
He said government subsequently appointed Rapaport as the marketing and sales agent following a credible and transparent procurement process.
“On 4th December 2017, the Rapaport Group acting as auctioneers on behalf of the government of Sierra Leone sold the 709 carats Peace Diamond by international Tender in New York, where the gem was sold for USD 6,536,360”.
The Director General NMA noted that prior to the tender process; the diamond was displayed in Tel Aviv, Antwerp and New York and that over 70 diamond dealers from all over the world viewed the diamond. He said Rapaport and the government of Sierra Leone also conducted massive publicity to attract the international diamond market. “But in spite of the above and the large number of viewers, only seven dealers submitted bids for the diamond and the highest bid submitted was USD 6,536, 360”. He said the dealer who submitted the USD 7,077,777 bid in Sierra Leone also participated in the New York tender, but submitted a bid which was half of what he was willing to pay during the first bidding round. According to Mr. Wonday, it was probably due to enhanced knowledge of the quality of the diamond from transparent sale process.
Mr. Wonday noted that the most attractive option therefore was to sell the diamond for the highest bid offered, more so when the unsuccessful bids were all below USD 4 million. He noted that Pastor Momoh the owner of the diamond had no artisanal mining license when the diamond was found so he couldn’t claim total ownership of the diamond. “But according to the Mines and Mineral Act Pastor Momoh is entitled to only 40% of the proceeds although he later acquired a license”. He said the total amount of the sales on the diamond have been deposited at the Central Bank in Freetown.