Congo releases group accused of gold smuggling

AP News
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Posted: Mar 25, 2011 2:43 PM
Congo releases group accused of gold smuggling

Congolese authorities say they've released a group that was accused of smuggling gold from rebel territories in the nation's volatile east.

Congo's public prosecutor said Friday they were releasing seven people including four foreigners. Among them: a Nigerian-born Houston oil tycoon and his brother, a Houston diamond merchant and a French suspect.

Prosecutor Kabange Numbi says they paid a fine and that their seized airplane will also be released.

The group was detained Feb. 3, when their jet was seized before leaving the airport in the city of Goma. Congolese officials said the plane was loaded with about $20 million in gold and several million dollars in cash.

The group's lawyer said they were shipping gold from Kenya in East Africa, not from within Congo.