Between a rock and a hard place: Part 2.
Clifford Elphick strikes a hush-hush diamond deal with a cabinet minister in Lesotho
In Mauritius, a factory was rented in the small town of L’Escalier, close to balmy Blue Bay. And Andy Allan, new business analyst at Gem Diamonds, assured Mauritian Industry Minister Rejesh Jeetah that the newly-formed Gem Diamond Technology (Mauritius) and its “state of the art laser polishing technology” was only months away from producing “the best quality diamonds in the world”.
But by the fourth quarter of 2008 the global banking crisis had hit the diamond industry and Gem was obliged to raise $98.8m by issuing 75m additional shares to settle outstanding debt. The drive was now on to generate cash and lower the outflows, said Elphick, ordering the beneficiation project in Mauritius – and another in Dubai – to be placed on ice.
However, unknown to Bond and Minister Jeetah, there was more to it than that. Noseweek can reveal that in the months before Gem’s R47m acquisition of Calibrated from Petra Diamonds in September 2008, Clifford Elphick was struggling to pull off a gamble which, if successful, would enable him to keep his acquisition promise to deliver to John Bond each month enough high quality carats, while still also supplying diamonds from his Letseng mine in Lesotho to the Matrix cutting plant in Antwerp, and opening the way for his planned diamond cutting/selling operation in Dubai.