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.
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.