By John Helmer in Moscow
Israelis claim Russian identity to announce Angolan diamond mine venture.
That Russian mining companies have deep pockets and Kremlin clout is a handle that has been tried on South African gold bugs and the Canadian venture investor market with modest and shortlived effect. But it is unheard-of for a group of Israelis engaged in the telephone and internet business to portray themselves in Angola as Russian diamond-miners, especially when the leading Israeli diamantaire in Angola appears not to have heard of them either.
Notwithstanding, Tomer Peirce was welcomed when he stepped off his aircraft at Luanda airport recently; according to the Angolan News Agency, Peirce had gone to Angola for the Russian Diamonds Company. It was reported that he and his company are negotiating terms of participation in a new Angolan diamond venture called the Mualengue project.
Nothing is known about the Mualengue project among Peirce’s associates; last week they said they could not contact him by telephone for another week. The family name Mualengue (aka Mualongo) appears to come from eastern or northeastern Angola, where it is also a village name in the Dala area. In September 2003 Soba Mualengue, a traditional leader in the Monakimbundo commune, was murdered, and the culprits, who have not been caught, are thought to be involved in a brand of vicious politics.
According to the Angolan press agency, Peirce claims his Russian Diamonds Company “will invest over five million American dollars” in the diamond search project, which “is located in the eastern provinces of Lunda-Sul and Moxico, in Dala region and the prospecting work has not yet been done.”
No record of Russian Diamonds Company exists in Russia. But Peirce and an associate Igor Levitas do operate an office in Moscow. They speak the language, but they are not Russian — they are Israelis. Their business is internet communications, website management, and telephony.
Records in Moscow refer to this business as Siwan Global Ltd. This isn’t Russian either. It was registered in the UK in January 2006, listing two directors — Tomer Telman Peirce, whose age is given as 30, and who lists his home address at Katzir-Harish in Israel. Nina Savenkova is listed as the second director, reporting that she’s a British citizen, with a street address in Moscow. That address also happens to be the address for Siwan Telecom LLC, which describes itself on a website, www.siwan.ru, as a provider of specialized internet and telephony services.
Levitas was asked whether his IT operation has the $5 million to spare to look for diamonds in the southwestern African bush. He explained that isn’t what he is doing. “I am running an IT business company, Siwan, together with my partner Peirce Tomer. This company is not related to diamonds or diamonds mining.”
Levitas wasn’t sure, but he added that Peirce holds two jobs. “Maybe Pierce is doing something in Angola for the interests of his other company.” According to Levitas, this is an investment fund. He declined to give its name or other details, except to note that it involves “a group of companies”.
Alrosa’s head of international relations, Sergei Uhlin, did not want to say he hadn’t heard of them. The Angolan Embassy in Moscow is silent. A leading figure in the Russian diamond manufacturing industry said he had never heard of Peirce Tomer, and a source close to Lev Leviev, the leading Israeli diamond manufacturer, told Mineweb he had never heard of Peirce Tomer or Russian Diamonds Company.
Mineweb waited until Peirce returned from Luanda to Moscow this week in order to ask him directly about his Angolan project plans, and the mining expertise and money he is promising the Angolans to deliver. Speaking in Russian, he said: “the project involves a private investment company and I am constrained by a confidentiality agreement regarding all details. I can tell you everything regarding my IT business here, but not about Angola.”