On December 21, 2017, President Donald Trump issued Executive Order 13818 which, among other targets, blocked all of the Israeli billionaire businessman Dan Gertler’s assets under US jurisdiction. According to The Economist, these sanctions were part of the reason for Gertler’s close friend, then-President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) Joseph Kabila, decision not to run for re-election in 2018. Then, on the eve of Trump’s departure, January 15, 2021, following lobbying by Alan Dershowitz and others, the US Treasury lifted the sanctions on Gertler. On Monday, the Biden administration moved to reimpose the same sanctions.
Gertler, 48, grandson of Moshe Schnitzer, first President and co-founder in 1947 of the Israel Diamond Exchange, has diamond and copper mining interests in the DRC, and investments in iron ore, gold, cobalt, oil, agriculture, and banking. In 2015 Forbes estimated his fortune at $1.26 billion. He is married to Anat Gertler and they live with their children in Bnei Brak.
According to the NY Times (Sanctions Are Reimposed on Israeli Billionaire Granted Relief Under Trump), the Biden move is closing the barn two months after all the horses have left for better pasture. Gertler is likely to have moved his thawed funds out of the US.
The State Department on Monday accused Gertler of engaging in “extensive public corruption,” and noted that the Treasury Department in consultation with the State Department was reversing his reprieve.
Gertler’s name appears more than 200 times in the notorious Panama Papers, a collection of 11.5 million leaked documents that detail financial and attorney–client information for more than 214,488 offshore entities. The documents were leaked beginning on April 3, 2016.
On 5 November 2017, the Paradise Papers, a set of confidential electronic documents relating to offshore investment, revealed that the Anglo-Swiss multinational commodity trading and mining company Glencore loaned Gertler $45 million in exchange for his help with officials of the Democratic Republic of Congo in negotiating a joint venture with a state-owned copper mine in 2009. Gertler’s name appears in 120 documents regarding his relationship with Glencore. Gertler and Glencore have denied wrongdoing in this affair.
Trump’s Department of the Treasury named Dan Gertler in the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) financial sanctions list for serious human rights abuse and corruption, under the Magnitsky Act, when it blocked his US-based assets, and “prevented any firm from doing business with him in dollars.” The OFAC statement said Gertler had “amassed his fortune through hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of opaque and corrupt mining and oil deals” in the DRC. The Economist reported that the Trump sanctions had come as “a shock to many companies operating in the Congo.”
Dershowitz, who was hired by Gertler in 2019, told the NY Times on Monday that he was disappointed with the Biden administration’s move, saying “this decision was done unilaterally without an opportunity for Mr. Gertler to present evidence that he has been complying with all the requirements and conducting himself properly.”
Dershowitz added: “We are now in the process of considering all of our options.”
Senator Benjamin Cardin (D-MD), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued a statement saying: “If well-connected international billionaires like Gertler think there is a chance they can get away with their corrupt actions, then they will not be deterred from doing them.”
Dan Gertler: I want the Congolese to enjoy their cobalt: