The saga involving a Gulfstream GV and its crew detained in Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo and attempted gold smuggling has finally come to a close. A jury in Dallas County, Texas, awarded the owner of the GV, Southlake Aviation, $32.4 million in damages to be paid by Camac International, subsidiary Camac Aviation and Camac vice president of African operations Mickey Lawal, according to a Southlake Aviation statement.
The GV was detained on Feb. 5, 2011, and more than a month later, on March 15, the aircraft’s co-captain and flight attendant were allowed to depart Goma. The other co-captain and passengers were allowed to leave a couple of weeks later, and the GV was also eventually released.
According to Southlake, trial testimony alleged that “Camac executives…arranged to exchange two-oversized suitcases stuffed with $6.5 million dollars in cash for 10 boxes of gold delivered by General Bosco Ntaganda’s armed forces.” The jury award included compensation of more than $535,000 for damage caused to the GV’s interior during the loading of the gold. During the trial, Southlake owner David Disiere testified that Camac leased the GV for a three-year period, “claiming it would use the jet to travel between its Houston headquarters and oil operations in Nigeria.”
In a statement, Camac wrote that, “This is a dispute over a contract, an aircraft lease. While we appreciate and respect the jury’s work, we disagree with the outcome. We are reviewing all of our available legal options.”