Feb 24, 2011
Via: Houston Chronicle :
A private jet that flew four international businessmen to the Democratic Republic of the Congo where they are being held on gold-smuggling allegations was provided by CAMAC International, a Houston oil-trading company owned by one of the city’s richest men and a brother of one of the passengers.
Kase Lawal, a Nigerian-born immigrant who has overseen 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.
The country recently banned the export of gold and other key minerals in an attempt to decriminalize its mining industries.
A CAMAC spokesman would not explain why Mickey Lawal, a 50-year-old company executive in charge of Nigerian operations, was on the plane or what his role in the transaction may have been.
- A d v e r t i s e m e n t
He also did not say why CAMAC allowed the Gulfstream it leases from a Dallas company to be used in the mysterious mission, which ended on Feb. 3 when Congolese intelligence police arrested the men and flight crew, impounded the plane and seized almost $7 million in U.S. dollars, and gold bars valued at some $20 million.
Kase Lawal, 56, came to the U.S. in the 1970s and earned degrees from Texas Southern University and Prairie View A&M.
Well-connected politically to members of both major parties, he was named by President Barack Obama to the Advisory Committee on Trade Policy and Negotiations.