In a civil trial that sounded like a real life James Bond spy novel, a Dallas County Jury awarded Southlake Aviation, owned by Dallas business executive David Disiere, $32.4 million in damages against Houston based oil company, CAMAC International, its subsidiary CAMAC Aviation, and Mickey Lawal CAMAC’s Vice President of African Operations.
The case stemmed from a scheme in which CAMAC International and its officers used a Gulfstream V jet leased from David Disiere’s Southlake Aviation to try to spirit more than ten thousands pounds of gold bullion out of the Democratic Republic of the Congo with help from General Bosco Ntaganda, a notorious Congolese warlord.
Following the verdict, Southlake Aviation’s President, David Disiere praised the jury’s decision, “twelve citizens saw through a smoke-and- mirrors defense put on by the CAMAC’s attorneys and clearly found that CAMAC caused my company to loose a $43 million dollar aircraft in a greedy scheme that violated the U.S. Trading With The Enemy Act.”
The jury heard riveting testimony from a diamond trader involved in the scheme describing how CAMAC executives Kase Lawal, Mickey Lawal, and Kamoru Lawal arranged to exchange two-oversized suitcases stuffed with six-and-half million dollars in cash for ten boxes of gold delivered by General Bosco Ntaganda’s armed forces.
An investigation of the smuggling incident by the United Nations Security Council found that CAMAC and its three top executives, Kase Lawal, Mickey Lawal, and Kamoru Lawal were dealing with “individuals operating in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and committing serious violations of international law involving the targeting of children or women in situations of armed conflict.”
Kase Lawal, Mickey Lawal, and Kamoru Lawal who are Nigerian American brothers invoked their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination hundreds of times during their testimony in the case.
Houston energy executive, Kase Lawal the former CEO of CAMAC International and the current CEO of the publically traded CAMAC Energy Inc. was appointed to a White House Trade Advisory position by President Obama and serves on the boards of the Houston Port and Airport Authorities.
David Disiere, the Dallas business executive and owner of Southlake Aviation, told the jury how he was shocked to get a call in the dead of night informing him that his company’s 43-million dollar Gulfstream V jet aircraft loaded with ten boxes of gold had been confiscated in Goma by authorities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on February 5, 2011. The jury’s verdict also included compensation of more than 535-thousand dollars for repairing damage done the to the aircraft’s interior passenger compartment during the loading of the gold.
Because Southlake Aviation’s aircraft was confiscated in the Congo, VFS Financing a subsidiary of General Electric, automatically placed Southlake Aviation’s loan to purchase the Gulfstream V in default, accelerated the entire balance, and repossessed the aircraft.
Testimony in the case and the investigation by the United Nations also indicated that former Houston Rocket’s basketball star Dikembe Mutombo acted as an intermediary in the gold smuggling scheme.
Testimony in the case showed that David Disiere had never met the Lawal brothers. Disiere testified that CAMAC had signed a three-year lease for Southlake’s Gulfstream V jet and claiming it would use the jet was to travel between its Houston headquarters and oil operations in Nigeria.
The jury agreed with David Disiere’s testimony that CAMAC and its officers violated the terms of the aircraft’s lease by using it in an outlaw region of Africa.