On Monday, the United States recalled an indemnity of sanctions for Israeli mining magnate Dan Gertler declared in the last days of the Trump government.
The Treasury Department said Gertler’s release from sanctions “is contrary to America’s strong foreign policy interests in the fight to corruption across the globe”, specifically in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The move came after Congolese and international human rights groups and several U.S. lawmakers last month called on Biden’s government to reverse last-minute move by Biden’s Republican predecessor, Donald Trump.
The Treasury imposed the sanctions in December 2017 and June 2018, accusing Gertler of working his friendship with the former president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Joseph Kabila, to win more than a billion dollars worth of love mining transactions.
The Trump administration eased the sanctions in a covert operation in its last week in January, permission awarded by the Treasury Department revealed.
Although the license did not remove Gertler, an associate, and more than thirty of his companies, from the sanctions list, it did give until January 31, 2022, the authorization for ‘all transactions and activities otherwise prohibited by sanctions against them.
Gertler’s original name under the Magnitsky Sanctions program made it clear that “Mr. Gertler was engaged in widespread public corruption,” the Treasury said in a statement Monday.
The sanctions barred Gertler from doing business with U.S. citizens, companies, or banks, effectively preventing him from doing business in dollars.
Gertler denied wrongdoing, arguing that his investments in the DRC were strengthening the country’s development.
Democratic Senator Ben Cardin, the lead author of the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, said Gertler should not be given an “eleven-hour permit” to do business with U.S. banks and companies.
“If well-connected international billionaires like Gertler think there is a chance they can get away with their nefarious activities, they will not be stopped,” Cardin said.