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A criminal operation in Brazil was illegally selling valuable Paraiba tourmaline
A criminal operation in Brazil was illegally selling valuable Paraiba tourmaline

Exposed: major criminal tourmaline operation

Brazilian police have uncovered a criminal operation that involved the illegal extraction and sale of one of the most valuable gemstones in the world.

The unlawful organisation, which allegedly consisted of several businessmen and a state legislator, was said to have used an intricate network of offshore companies in order to negotiate the sale of Paraiba tourmaline as well as to launder money.

According to media statements from the Brazilian public prosecutor’s office (MPF), the gemstone was illegally extracted from a district in Paraiba before being cut and polished in a neighbouring Brazilian city. Gemstones were then exported and sold to international markets such as Bangkok, Hong Kong, Houston and Las Vegas.

The investigation into this illegal extraction and trading began in March 2009, but it wasn’t until the end of May 2015 that the MPF was able to gain warrants to arrest eight people for the crime. It has since been reported, however, that two of these people have escaped arrest.

Translated text from a Portuguese MPF media statement explained, “The body of evidence obtained during investigations showed that the investigated [suspects], acting freely and consciously, usurped raw material of the Union, to extract Paraiba tourmaline, without authorisation from the National Department of Mineral Production and the Ministry of Mines and Energy.”

Background: Paraiba tourmaline is 10,000 times more rare than diamond

The statement added that some of the unauthorised mineral extraction had taken place on property owned by the company Parazul Mineração, Comércio e Exportação, which had an exploration licence that expired in 1999.

According to a separate translated MPF statement, the “glowing blue” colour and other unique characteristics of the Paraiba tourmaline had resulted in high demand for the gemstone. It was also said that Paraiba tourmaline had been used by international brands such as Tiffany & Co and Dior.

“It is estimated that a one-carat stone sells on average for US$30,000 (AU$38,563) and can sell up to US$100,000 (AU$128,534), depending on the characteristics of the gemstone,” the statement read. “The black market for the stone has generated a millionaire movement of illicit capital in Brazil and abroad.”

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The exotics: Paraiba tourmaline

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Thursday, 12 December, 2019 08:34am
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