Australian Institute of Criminology

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The illicit market in diamonds

Trends & issues in crime and criminal justice no. 218

Rebecca Tailby
ISBN 0 642 24249 6 ISSN 0817-8542
Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology, January 2002


After reviewing the advantages of diamonds for illegal trade, this paper discusses the strategies used by organised crime for diamond theft at each stage of the diamond pipeline. The trade in illegally obtained diamonds, including conflict diamonds, is described, and the level of risk in Australia is estimated. A cash flow case study is presented for the Argyle Diamond Mine, showing a potential loss to illicit trade of between 1-14% of total production. The paper also discusses local, national and international responses to the problem of diamond theft, and emphasises the need for a coordinated national response which would share information held by various agencies and facilitate international engagement.