Congo Gold-Grab Mystery Deepens

23.02.11

Categorie: Africa, Congo, David Axe |
Tags: ,

Gulfstream

Gulfstream. Flugzeuginfo.net photo.

by DAVID AXE

Two weeks ago, officials in the Democratic Republic of Congo seized a Texas-registered Gulfstream jet with four passengers plus crew — and carrying $7 million in cash and gold bars worth $20 million. At first glance, it looked like a smuggling operation gone awry. Now details have emerged about the passengers’ identities … and it seems they might have been the victims of an elaborate scam, potentially involving a Congolese war criminal.

Needless to say, many questions remain. The Houston Chronicle has more:

Kase Lawal, a Nigerian-born immigrant who has overseen [Houston company] CAMAC’s rise to a $2.4 billion private company — said to be the second-largest black-owned business in the U.S. — and who was recently appointed to an advisory post in the Obama administration, is the half-brother of Mukaila Aderemi “Mickey” Lawal, who was detained along with fellow Houstonian Carlos St. Mary and two other businessmen as their plane was preparing to depart from Goma, a city in the mineral-laden eastern half of Congo. …

According to [lawyer Punit] Vadgama’s letter, [a source named] “David” had agreed to sell [St. Mary's firm] Axiom 475 kilograms of gold at a certain price, with the deal to take place in Ken­ya and to be legally documented. When the group arrived in Kenya, St. Mary and his partners began to suspect they might be getting duped …

After notifying Kenyan police of the possible swindle in January, Axiom was again contacted by [broker E. Michelle D. ] Malonga and told the gold had been taken out of Kenya to Uganda, and that the deal would have to be done there, according to the letter. The purchasers refused. Then Malonga allegedly said the gold was in Congo and that the deal had to go down in Goma. They agreed, went to Goma, paid Malonga and his associates and had the gold loaded onto the aircraft. …

Congolese authorities stepped in before the various parties to the deal could leave. It is not clear from whom almost $7 million in cash was seized. Early reports from Congo said it was in the possession of men taking it to the residence of Gen. Bosco Ntaganda, who was indicted for alleged war crimes by the International Criminal Court.

Ntaganda denied any involvement, however, and later official reports said the general was involved in stopping an attempt to smuggle Congolese gold out of the country.

Attorney Vadgama insists his clients were the victims of a fraud — not smugglers.

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4 Responses to “Congo Gold-Grab Mystery Deepens”

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by War is Boring and David Axe, Aman Chauhan. Aman Chauhan said: Congo Gold-Grab Mystery Deepens http://ff.im/-yDFEW [...]

  2. Loic says:

    reminds me of one of those 419 scam

  3. [...] Democratic Republic of Congo. The U.S. embassy in Kinshasa has sent a representative to check on the detainees, including Kase Lawal, a Nigerian-born U.S. citizen who oversees $2.4-billion Houston energy firm [...]

  4. [...] of involvement in illicit gold smuggling. Then it seemed the passengers were involved in an elaborate scam with a rogue Congolese general. Now the Houston Chronicle has published details on one of the [...]

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