The U.S. Justice Department has had a vendetta with DeBeers since World War II when the diamond monopoly refused to give America all the industrial diamonds it said it needed for the war effort. Although the company was free to come and go before the war (it had a booth at the 1939 World's Fair), De Beers officials have not stepped foot in this country - at least not on company business - since 1945.
Now De Beers seems set to re-open offices in America. It has settled its long-standing feud with the U.S. government by pleading guilty to one count of price fixing, stemming from charges brought in 1994 - and paying a $10 million fine. That's small potatoes for a mining company that sold $5.5 billion worth of diamonds in 2003!
The guilty plea and token payment are seen by diamond industry insiders as the price De Beers had to pay to be able to re-open offices in the U.S. America is the company's Number One market, accounting for 55% of all world diamond sales. Until now, DeBeers had to travel to Toronto to meet with American dealers and jewelers. Now it will be able to play host to its U.S. customers in New York, where most of its customers are based.
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