Jan 16, 2012, 1:45 PM EST
Dikembe Mutombo is a guy known nearly as well for his international humanitarian efforts as his post-block finger wag. A guy well respected around the league.
But this could ruin that reputation — Mutombo was at the heart of a dirty deal to move $10 million in Congolese gold out of that nation and to the United States, reports the Houston Chronicle.
It is a complex story but it starts with this fact — gold being moved out of the Congo is essentially a “blood mineral” the way “blood diamonds” have been a problem in parts of the world. Mafia-like organizations control the mining and sale of the gold, then are using the money from that to fund a civil war in the nation that has cost more than 5 million lives.
This situation involves Houston business man Kase Lawal, who allegedly was approached by Mutombo to move more than 1,000 pounds of gold — worth more than $10 million on the open market — out of the Congo. The two men and others decided to work together but at the last second the deal fell apart when Lawal’s private plane was seized by Congolese militia (loaded with gold and cash).
It is a messy situation. There have been no arrests or charges, but Mutombo does not come off well in this picture — a guy who talks of humanitarian needs on one hand and tries to profit from conflict minerals on the other. He did not comment on the story.
Read the whole thing. It’s fascinating and disturbing. And while it is hard to discern the truth, nobody comes off looking good. Especially not Mutombo.
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