Tanzania’s anti-graft watchdog on Friday announced the arrest of seven top mineral dealers for their allegedly attempt to bribe senior government officials to facilitate smuggling of Tanzanite, a rare gem.

John Mbungo, the director general of the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB), said the seven mineral dealers had on separate occasions used money to bribe government official at minerals trading centers in the northern regions of Arusha and Manyara to undervalue the gemstones and evade tax.

“The suspects have tried to smuggle the precious gemstones outside the country, well knowing that it was prohibited,” Mbungo told a news conference in Arusha, a city in northeastern Tanzania.

He said PCCB was investigating the wealth and business ventures owned by the suspects, which he said, was worth 7.2 billion Tanzanian shillings (about 3.1 million U.S. dollars).

Mbungo said the suspects were being questioned over how they acquired such wealth against the backdrop of their misconduct in the minerals business.

In 2017, Tanzania’s president John Magufuli ordered the army to build walls around its tanzanite mines to prevent smuggling and better control exports of the precious gems.

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