(RAPAPORT) AFP: Police in South Africa on Friday said they had arrested 19 high-profile business leaders allegedly involved in an illicit diamond dealing syndicate.
They were caught as part of a countrywide sting targeting diamond traders, police said.
Police believe they are part of a 35-member ring suspected of buying illicit diamonds and passing them off has having been produced and obtained legally. More arrests are expected in the coming days.
Prosecution authority spokesman Nathi Mncube told SAPA news agency that the group will face charges of "illegal diamond dealing, possession and sale of unpolished diamonds and money laundering."
South Africa is among the world's top producers of diamonds. It is also a member of the global diamond watchdog, the Kimberley Process, which imposes strict controls to prevent illicitly-acquired and so-called blood diamonds from filtering into the global market.
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