Exporter caught for undervaluing gems by 10-fold

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The National Gem and Jewellery Authority (NGJA) has seized nine different types of precious stones, valued at 21,096 carats, scheduled to be transported to Thailand by an exporter, who undervalued them by a 10-fold.

NGJA Chairman and CEO Thilak Weerasinghe told Ceylon Today yesterday (23), the exporter, whose name was “withheld,” had made a single invoice for the precious stones, quoting USD 70,817, even though their actual value was more than 10 times higher and should have been USD 778,987. Blue sapphires, rubies, emeralds, tsavorites (green garnets), star sapphires, and cat’s eye were among the priced stones.

“It was cheating and he was even caught doing the same three months ago,” the Chairman said.

He added that in the new Government circular, the NGJA has strictly mentioned to gem exporters to adhere to the value mentioned by the NGJA before exporting and those items would be retained by the NGJA unless they compromise with the value.

He underlined that at the end of the day, the State’s gem evaluating officials would table the value of the items, and the exporters should export based on the real value of the precious stone. “We will lose dollars otherwise,” the Chairman said.

He also said a committee has been appointed to look into it and the retained gem parcel is sealed and would be opened only in the presence of the exporters.

He said precious stones would be subject to a .25 per cent service charge by the Government, as a favour to gem exporters, but if they tried to cheat, they would be charged .50 per cent. “This exporter sought to undervalue the precious stones, and we will not allow him to export it. The stones will be detained until he complies with our pricing methodology,” the exporter said.

According to him, the gem exporter’s invoice would be tested and the Customs official gem examination officers and the exporters discuss the matter before finalising the price.

The gem exporters can do their own valuation, but the NGJA will do the exact valuation based on market value.

Meanwhile, the NGJA Chairman said the biggest aggregate star sapphire cluster weighing 503.2 kg, found in Ratnapura last year, was sent to a lab in Dublin six months ago. He said the cluster got the Guinness World Record for the world’s largest sapphire aggregate and would be exhibited in Switzerland. 

By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan