Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Worker snatches DTCB index of gem prices

A new document that reads like a litany of staff grievances at the Diamond Trading Company Botswana shared with the Sunday Standard sheds light into a glut of security discrepancies and lapses that on a whole border on a defective culture of corporate governance.

Among other things, the document alleges that a De Beers employee was seen on a CCTV footage tearing and smuggling out of the DTCB building a page from the Diamond Price Book by DTCB security officers.

After watching the footage of the said De Beers officer, security officers at DTCB arrested him, searched him and retrieved the page.

According to diamond experts that talked to Sunday Standard, a Diamond Price Book is a very sensitive document that details how diamonds will be valued, aggregated and priced following an equally sensitive Sales Agreement concluded by Botswana Government and De Beers.

The document is supposed to be accessible only to a handful of individuals in both De Beers and government.

The suspicion among DTCB security staff is that the De Beers officer in question was acting for other interests other than De Beers or Botswana government.

They strongly believe he was going to sell it to a third party, possibly one of the sight-holders or worse in the diamond underworld at a very high fee.

“The price book has information on diamonds classifications and prices. It is a highly secured document with very high classification,” said a former senior security official who has worked at Debswana, but has himself never seen much of it or touched a copy.

But to the dismay of both staff and security officers at DTCB, no action was taken against the De Beers official after being caught red-handed.

The suspect was released after DTCB management overruled security officers, arguing that taking action against the De Beers official would scare away sight-holders and portray Botswana as unfriendly to foreigners.

This decision by management has rubbed DTCB officers the wrong way as they feel that sensitive information has been compromised by falling into the wrong hands and might in future, be used against the interests of Botswana  at their negotiations with De Beers or even by sight-holders who buy the country’s diamonds.

“The diamond price information is normally only accessible by a preserve of a few key people. This information is so sensitive that even Debswana don’t have it because for a long time De Beers refused to give it to Debswana because of its sensitivity and the fact that it is classified as intellectual property.”

This week DTCB dispatched an official memo to staff reminding them not to divulge sensitive information to the media.

The memo follows another article that the Sunday Standard ran two weeks ago on how De Beers was using the diamond pricing Information Technology, dubbed CAMPUS to strong-arm Botswana Government ahead of sales negotiations that are due to start before the current agreement comes to an end in 2020.

De Beers’s engineers and IT experts have been putting into place a spirited narrative that the system be housed not in Gaborone but in Johannesburg.

“From the said article one would expect that the focus would be on justifying the decision taken on locating the CAMPUS Project in Johannesburg. But instead, we are being threatened and live in fear. DTCB security agents are busy reviewing employees’ phone records, emails and some people are being tracked like wildlife poachers. DTCB must explain to Botswana Government and the public at large why Johannesburg is the location for the system when its biggest users being DTCB and DBGSS are both in Botswana,” said one DTCB officer.

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