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 stone, believed to be the 13th-largest rough diamond ever found, will be available for viewing at the Bank of Sierra Leone today. The government has flown in an independent diamond valuator to evaluate it. The Ministry of Mines and Mineral Resources said that, Potential buyers can obtain bidding documents on payment of a non-refundable $5,000 fee, as well as a $50,000 deposit, the ministry said. The sealed offers will be opened in front of all bidders on April 6.
The precious stone now called ‘divine diamond’ due to its owner’s religious commit
ment, was discovered in the eastern Kono District, home of the two largest diamonds discovered in the country was presented to Sierra Leone’s President Ernest Bai Koroma. Koroma has previously said the selling process will be transparent and that the highest bidder will win the stone, subject to a reserve price. He has also stressed the importance of selling it within the country for the benefit of the nation.
The announcement of its sale comes at the backdrop of persistent rumour over it’s rightful ownership alleging that Pastor Emmanuel Momoh was not the rightful owner, others accused him of operating his artisanal mining company under an expired licence. 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.
Earlier last 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.