President Trump’s administration utilized its final week in power to ease sanctions against Israeli mining magnate Dan Gertler that were imposed for alleged corruption in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), according to a license issued by the US Department of the Treasury.
The license was not publicly announced. It was issued by the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), according to a January 15 letter to Gertler’s lawyers that was obtained by The Sentry, a Washington DC-based anti-corruption group, and seen by Reuters news agency.
“Gartler is an international businessman and billionaire who has accumulated wealth through hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of opaque and corrupt mining and oil trading in the Democratic Republic of the Congo,” the Treasury sanctioned in 2018.
Gertler’s spokesman welcomed the move, but anti-graft campaigners urged President Joe Biden’s Treasury to revoke the license.
A Treasury spokesman said the Biden administration was aware of the action, but declined to comment on whether it would move to undo it.
The Treasury in December 2017 and June 2018 imposed sanctions on the Jew, Mr. Gertler, accusing him of using his friendship with DRC’s former President Joseph Kabila to secure juicy mining deals worth more than a billion dollars.
Mining operations in Congo carried out by foreign bodies are tedious and dangerous, putting the lives of children – who are typically deployed to work in the mines – at risk. The foreigners, in partnership with corrupt government elites, capitalize on the poverty in the country to gain cheap labour.
Late last year, there was a viral campaign on social media started by human rights activists in the Central African country with the hashtag #CongoIsBleeding. This was a campaign particularly targeted at the degrading and insufferable treatment African children have to undergo at the Congo mines, which often led to the loss of lives.
The US Treasury sanctions against Gertler prohibited him from doing business with US citizens, companies or banks, effectively barring him from doing transactions in dollars.
It remains to be seen if the Biden administration would revoke Gertler’s license.
NEWS/PHOTO SOURCE: Reuters | News Agencies