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Mandela Charity Board Member Quits Over Diamonds

Aug. 18 (Bloomberg) -- Jeremy Ratcliffe, who admitted receiving uncut diamonds from model Naomi Campbell and waiting 13 years before handing them to the police, quit his position at a charity started by former South African President Nelson Mandela.

Ratcliffe resigned as a board member for the charity’s U.S. affiliate with immediate effect, and won’t make himself available for re-election as a trustee at its annual general meeting on Aug. 27, the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund said in an e-mailed statement today. He is the former chief executive officer of the fund.

“Mr. Ratcliffe regrets his omission to inform the chairperson, CEO and the rest of the board of trustees of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund of his receipt of the uncut diamonds until now,” the fund said. “Mr. Ratcliffe has stated that he acted in what he sincerely believed to be in the best interest of the NMCF and its founder and realizes that he has left himself open to possible prosecution.”

On Aug. 5, Campbell told the war crimes trial of former Liberian President Charles Taylor that two strangers handed her some “dirty looking stones” after a 1997 dinner at Mandela’s home and that she gave them to Ratcliffe.

Taylor has pleaded innocent to 11 counts including enlisting child soldiers, murder and sexual slavery during the 1991-2002 civil war in Sierra Leone, which claimed as many as 250,000 lives. He also denied providing weapons to fighters in the Revolutionary United Front, a Sierra Leone rebel movement, in exchange for diamonds.

To contact the reporters on this story: Mike Cohen in Cape Town at mcohen21@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Hirschberg at phirschberg@bloomberg.net.

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