LOS ANGELES (CN) – A trial scheduled to start Wednesday over the ownership of an 840-pound emerald found by miner Elson Ribieiro in Bahia has been put off with the announcement of a settlement between the two principal contenders for the massive green stone from the northeast of Brazil. The two main parties settled their differences just before trial but would not immediately iscuss the terms.
Two remaining parties who intervened in the cases and who are gem buyers have not settled. Their claims are now scheduled for trial late in September. One of the intervenors claims that he bought the world’s largest raw emerald for a mere $60,000 and tried to bring it to the U.S. in his overhead luggage compartment.
The litigation was instigated by Kenneth Conetto who filed a petition in Los Angeles Superior Court claiming to be the rightful owner of the Bahia emerald, setting off the emerald ownership war.
According to court papers, the emerald said to be worth $400 million was found in the mountains of Bahia by Elson Ribiero. Petitioner Conetto claims Ribiero sold the emerald to him. But Jeffrey Baruh, the lawyer for intevenor and gem buyer Anthony Thomas, says it was his client who bought the rock in 2001 for $60,000.
Yet another intervenor and gem buyer claims yet otherwise.
In his court papers, ithe second ntervenor, Mark Downie, says he loaned $81,000 to help Gemworks Mining start its business, with the massive stone used as collateral.
Eric Kitchen, who is currently the lawyer for petititoner Conetto, was also the ex-vice president of Gemworks Mining.
The deal, says Downie, was that, if Kitchen could not pay the money back on time, Downie “would be granted all rights, title and interest to the Emerald.”
Respondents Kit Morrison and Todd Armstrong, who settled Wednesday with petitioner Conetto have not told their side of the story in the court papers.