Things They Don’t Tell You: Jacob The Jeweler Implicated In Mining Scandal In Swaziland
It appears that everybody’s favorite gaudy jewelry maker is in hot water again – this time internationally on allegations of some shady business dealings in Swaziland, which is the last remaining absolute monarch in Africa.
And if you haven’t already guessed, I’m talking about Jacob “The Jeweler” Arabo, who is the owner of Jacob & Co., and friend to many in the Hip Hop community (as evidenced by the number of shout-outs he and his business gets on songs – 62 in total). He also boasts members of the mainstream prestige as clientele including Sir Elton John, Bono and former NY Mayor Rudy Giuliani (that’s according to his wiki page). According to the Swazi Observer, Arabo has also been implicated in massive and illegal gold mining in the south African country.
As reported by the paper, Arabo’s Jacob & Co. was granted permission by King Mswati III to prospect for gold in that country’s Northern Hhohho Mountains area. However, the King’s officials have pulled the company’s prospecting license, which only allowed for the jeweler to locate gold and ascertain its quality but no digging, after local residents informed the government that the jewelry company was using heavy machinery and mining for gold far away in an untapped portion of the Lufafa Mountains.
The report goes on to further state:
“Upon inspection of the site by officers from the geology department, it was discovered that employees of Jacob and Co. had dug mine shafts along the mountain and were mining gold. A report on the findings was compiled and submitted to the commissioner of mines for action,” an impeccable source said.”
Moreover, a Jacob & Co. employee was arrested in Swaziland in connections with the illegal mining allegations with 27g of gold nuggets in his possession of 27kg of gold nuggets. According to the report, all gold discovered in Swaziland is supposed to be forwarded to the Central Bank as it property of the King. And those caught mining without permission from the King (or one of his chiefs, prince or princesses) can be punished severely by law.
It’s not clear yet on what other sanctions might happen to Arabo and his jewelry company, considering his alleged close ties with the Royal family. If you recall, Arabo’s name was at center of controversy, involving neo-soul singer Erykah Badu, who was flown in by Arabo to sing and present a gift to the King during his lavish royal birthday party. Badu, who was in nearby South Africa recording an album prior to her appearance, gave the King a stone, which she claimed would lift his spirits.
Badu received much of the flack for the appearance from human rights organizations, who claimed that her presence supported tyranny and abuses of political opponents allegedly at the bequest of the King. However Badu maintained that she wasn’t aware of the allegations nor was she political and instead, was there solely to perform a favor for her friend Arabo.
Meanwhile Arabo, whose family emigrated from Uzbekistan to the United States when he was only 14, pretty much skirted away from the controversy unscathed. However this is not the first time Arabo has found himself in the middle of some shady jewlery dealings. According to The Smoking Gun, Arabo allegedly helped members of the notorious Detroit Black Mafia Family to launder millions. Arabo was convicted of federal charges in 2008 and sentenced to 2 1/2 years in federal prison. He was released in 2010.
If the allegations are true, Arabo proves that all the glitters ain’t gold – or maybe it is and it just was stolen?