WASHINGTON (JTA) — Dan Gertler, an Israeli with extensive investments in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is among the first people targeted for sanctions under a new U.S. international anti-corruption law.
Dan Gertler is among “13 serious human rights abusers and corrupt actors,” the Treasury Department said in a release Thursday, who would be sanctioned under the Global Magnitsky Act passed in 2016. It is the first time the law is being applied.
Gertler “is an international businessman and billionaire who has amassed his fortune through hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of opaque and corrupt mining and oil deals in the Democratic Republic of the Congo,” the release said. “Gertler has used his close friendship with DRC President Joseph Kabila to act as a middleman for mining asset sales in the DRC, requiring some multinational companies to go through Gertler to do business with the Congolese state.”
As a result, mining assets are consistently underpriced upon sale to Gertler or his fronts, and then resold at real value, Treasury said, with the resultant kickbacks to Gertler and Kabila costing Congo upward of $1 billion.
Also named are 20 affiliates of Gertler, including his family foundation and several Israel-based companies. Gertler, whose grandfather founded Israel’s famed Ramat Gan diamond exchange, has said his investments benefit the Congo and stave off conflict in the war-torn land.
The aim of the sanctioning is to squeeze Kabila, in power since 2001 and seen as a major human rights abuser and kleptocrat. The sanctions will make it difficult for Gertler to trade in U.S. markets.
The Global Magnitsky Act expands the 2009 Magnitsky Act, which targeted Russian corruption, to target human rights abusers worldwide. It is named for Sergei Magnitsky, the Russian accountant who was jailed on what are believed to be charges trumped up because of his exposure of state corruption. He was tortured and died in jail
Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who has made human rights his signature issue, introduced the Global Magnitsky Act.