Painting by Cheri Samba

Lokuta eyaka na ascenseur, kasi vérité eyei na escalier mpe ekomi. Lies come up in the elevator; the truth takes the stairs but gets here eventually. - Koffi Olomide

Ésthetique eboma vélo. Aesthetics will kill a bicycle. - Felix Wazekwa

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

500 kilos of gold, a war criminal and Gulfstream jet

It is a plot made in Hollywood - last Thursday, a Gulfstream jet arrived at the airport in Goma with two Nigerians, a Frenchman and an American on board. According to local sources, the plane was immediately received by guards loyal to ICC-indictee Gen. Bosco Ntaganda. These soldiers offloaded some boxes and headed towards town. According to one version of the events, the Republican guard followed in pursuit but were told to step down when they saw the boxes were headed towards Bosco's residence. The crew was the arrested by Congolese intelligence officials, the engines of the aircraft still on.

So what was in the boxes? According to the governor of North Kivu Julien Paluku, $6,8 million. The Congolese authorities first suggested that Bosco might be behind it, but the head of intelligence for Amani Leo, Col. Wilson Nsengiyumva (also an ex-CNDP officer), said that Bosco had actually led the sting operation against unnamed Congolese businessmen who "were trying to steal the country's riches." According to other sources, however, Bosco was trying to sell up to 500 kilos of gold - that would be worth around $20 million on the international market if it is decent quality.

Where would Bosco get the gold from? It is true that many of his soldiers control mining areas, but the gold trade usually goes through Bukavu or Butembo, not Goma. And 500 kilos would be a huge amount, an eighth of the estimated gold trade in the Kivus, although those estimates are very approximate given the underground nature of that trade.

And who are his presumed business partners? The press suggests that they are American Edouard Carlos St. Mary III, Nigerians Adeola Alexander Ehinmola and Mukaila Aderemi Lawal, and French citizen Franck Stephane M’Bemba.

Interesting fact: an Arizona court ruled last year that two local businessmen were guilty of defrauding investors for over $640,000 in a pyramid scheme they had set up with a certain Edward Carlos St. Mary who runs a company called Axiom. (The court document suggests that the two convicted men had sued Mr. St. Mary, but do not mention the outcome of that case.) The investment? Buying diamonds. The company's motto was "buy cheap, sell high." Apparently it didn't work out this time.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Based on this piece - http://www.izf.net/upload/AFP/francais/special/afrique/AFP.php?content=110209180601.tlsi5uz9.html - by AFP, the aircraft at issue has as registration number "N886DT". On the website of the Federal Aviation Admnistration's registry of aircrafts, that registration number is for a Gulfstream owned by Southlake Aviation LLC (Irving, Texas).

Here is the link to the entry in the FAA registry: http://registry.faa.gov/aircraftinquiry/NNum_Results.aspx?NNumbertxt=N886DT

And here is a post by the crime blog of dallasnews.com about the incident: http://crimeblog.dallasnews.com/archives/2011/02/reports-jet-loaded-with-millio.html

I hope some US prosecutor will look into this and bring charges where appropriate (FCPA?)

Jason Stearns said...

Thanks for this - but would the aircraft's owner or pilot have committed a crime, or is the responsibility that of the people who chartered the plane?

Anonymous said...

The criminal responsibility of the owner or pilot of the aircraft would turn on whether they knew or should have known that their actions were furthering the consummation of criminal activities.

Anonymous said...

Sooo, it's a crime to purchase gold. I thought that was only in the US circa 1933!

Anonymous said...

Carlos St. Mary cheated my investor out of $100,000. He was supposed to deliver small parcel of rough diamonds and he never did. He said he was being extorted and that his family was being threatened. But at the same time, he was constructing a HUGE lavish swimming pool in his back yard - complete with lazy river, 2 jacuzzi's and swim up bar. Although he has caused my family a huge deal of hardship - I pray for him and his family. I hope his actions, if guilty, are not a result of greed.

Anonymous said...

The last comment sounds like that guy named Michael Bell of Arizona, he's the one that is part of that lawsuit.From what I read in that docket, it sounds like you guys didn't have a problem with Mr. St.Mary's business dealings as long as you guys were making money, you obvious beleived in him, so much that you asked other people for money to invest, boo on you, you are the person they trusted, not St. Mary. You sound like another whiney business man trying to get rich off of another persons talents, when things don't go right, you whine and want out. And being that you described the man's house, it's obvious you have some serious jealous issues. I'm sure you weren't his only client or source of income? Man, It's an investment, it's a risk, you can't cry foul afterwards. Get a life or a job. And if you were smart and had a smart lawyer, he should of kept his mouth shut speaking about it in the article, that's slander and if you ever thought you would of gotten something before, well that's gone now. There's another article after stated later showing that those people over there never did any wrong and have not been charged, read between the lines, he had legal permits and certs and had a papertrail, they're in a hotel, not prison. So people need to stop bashing and pray for their return.

Anonymous said...

If i'm not mistaken, the articles state that the "flight crew" are being held in a hotel, but the other 4 are under 'close guard,' but it doesn't state their location...doesn't sound like a hotel to me. At any rate - if he is in a prison in that country - that's something that I don't wish on my worse enemy. I do pray for his family and his safe return home.

Anonymous said...

I read in another article and it cleary states from Washington D.C. spokeswoman Nicole Thompson, The State Department has visited the five detained Americans to guarantee they are treated humanely, reports say they are all in an upscale hotel. "No information on whether the Americans broke any foreign laws and no American charges have been filed in the incident" Too bad these guys can't catch a break. They have not done any wrong in Congo or America, but being persecuted by fellow Americans. I pray for their safe return home too

Anonymous said...

I've never heard of a legal business deal involving millions of dollars in cash in a briefcase being turned over to a war criminal. Also, I'm not clear where the gold came from. Just like the mining of blood diamonds, I thought gold was a protected mineral. In any event, prayers for safe return are extended.

Vintage rings said...

Thank you for information ! What about aircraft owner and pilot ?? Have they committed about the crime ?? Its really very surprised news for me..Never thought like that ..

Dre said...

What's all this bull about "We pray for their safe return home". First u all sound like parrots. Unless you have some 'interest' in these briefcase deals, I think any of u 'religiously-inclined' people had better rethink you morality. Dealing with an ICC-indictee comes very close to making Zyklon B chemicals for the Nazis (Hint: It was used for 'pest' extermination and I am not talking about six-legged creatures). You are now a bedfellow of a highly suspected murderer, child molester,...(fill in most of the vilest crimes against humanity here)

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