Dan Gertler faces US sanctions over Congo exploitation

Dan Gertler
(Photo: Twitter/X)
Dan Gertler, stands out as a central figure in the exploitation and control of resources in the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to joint reports from the Israeli newspaper "Haaretz", "Africa-Report" and American "Bloomberg".اضافة اعلان

The Gertler family: Influence and impact
Dan Gertler is the grandson of Moshe Schnitzer, a prominent figure who co-founded the Israel Diamond Exchange in 1947 and received the Israel Prize in 2004, Al-Ghad reported.

Gertler grew up in a family with a strong tradition in diamond polishing and marketing, gaining experience in this field from his father and grandfather.

Starting from a family legacy rooted in diamond exploitation on the African continent during the colonial era, Gertler is following in the footsteps of his ancestors.

After his mandatory three-year service in the Israeli army, Gertler established his diamond trading shop. At the age of 23, he headed to the Democratic Republic of Congo, which was then experiencing a cycle of unrest and bloody conflicts.

During that turbulent period, rebel leader Laurent-Désiré Kabila was in dire need of money and weapons to launch his attack on the capital, Kinshasa. Gertler cleverly provided $20 million in support for the rebellion.

As Kabila rose to power, Gertler leveraged his close relationship with him to consolidate his influence, gaining access to mineral extraction rights at preferential prices, far from global market standards. In return, Gertler pledged to ensure international support for the Kabila regime from Western countries.
Following the assassination of Laurent Kabila in January 2001, his son Joseph Kabila assumed power. Gertler exploited this shift to his advantage, taking advantage of the young president's lack of experience in the political field, and worked to consolidate his interests.

Amid doubts and controversy surrounding Laurent's murder and his son Joseph's accession to power, the latter delegated Gertler to negotiate with the US to gain its support and that of the international community against his opponents.

Mining sector
The mining sector is an essential pillar of the Democratic Republic of the Congo's economy, as it contributed about 55 percent of total revenues in 2017 and represented 99 percent of total national exports in 2023.

During the long period of Joseph Kabila's rule, Gertler won large and suspicious contracts to export diamonds, gold, oil, cobalt, and other precious metals.

As a result, Gertler established himself as a prominent businessman and billionaire in the global mining arena, establishing the Dan Gertler International Group (DGI).

He was famous not only in the diamond and copper sectors but also expanded his investments to cover other areas such as iron ore, gold, cobalt, and oil, in addition to the agricultural and banking sectors.
Thus, Gertler created his fortune, which Forbes estimates at approximately $2 billion in 2023, by benefiting from his relationships with parties sometimes involved in war crimes.

The intersection of Gertler and Israeli politics
In June 2022, journalist Martin Plaut, who specializes in the affairs of the Horn of Africa and South Africa, conducted a careful investigation that revealed influential figures working within the Israeli government under the leadership of Benjamin Netanyahu and provided assistance to Gertler. Among these, is the name of Yossi Cohen, who previously held the position of Mossad director.

Cohen made three visits to the DR of Congo in 2019, to intercede on behalf of Gertler with President Joseph Kabila and ensure the continuation of his privileges with his successor, President Felix Tshisekedi.
According to Plaut, those close to Gertler and Cohen confirm that all their moves were in the interest of the Israeli state.

But Cohen's three visits to one of the most corrupt countries on the African continent have raised many questions about the extent of the Israeli government's involvement with Gertler in his suspicious activities, especially in the areas of controlling precious metals.

The mystery unfolds when looking at the distinguished position that Israel occupies in the global industrial space, and with the realization of the pivotal importance of minerals such as cobalt, lithium, and coltan in shaping the features of technical superiority, there was an urgent need for the Israeli government to ensure the continuity and security of Dan Gertler’s investments in the DR of Congo.

These minerals form the backbone of multiple vital industries, such as those related to electric car batteries, connectors, and advanced electronic chip technology, as well as in the manufacture of smartphones and computers, not to mention their essential role in the Israeli military sector.
Strategic arena

In 2018, according to World Integrated Trade Solution data, Israel imported various cobalt products from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, including cobalt, scrap, and powder.

The DR of Congo is considered the main supplier of these minerals, as it contributes about 70 percent of the global production of cobalt and 80 percent of coltan, making it an arena of significant strategic importance.

In addition to seeking to exploit these resources in its industrial sectors, Israel is keen to strengthen its economic and political presence in this vital part of the African continent.

In a related context, Israel goes beyond merely engaging in traditional investment activities alongside its businessmen, as it demonstrates its military involvement in protecting these interests in Congo by providing support to the armed factions that ensure the preservation of their interests.

In October 2023, African press reports indicated that Israel had redeployed its soldiers secretly working in the Congo to participate in ground military operations in Gaza, highlighting the deep overlap between Israel’s economic, military, and intelligence goals on the African continent.
Gertler and corruption investigations

Over the years, Gertler's name has been linked to repeated corruption allegations. In May 2013, a report issued by Kofi Annan, former Secretary-General of the United Nations, revealed the huge losses incurred by the Democratic Congo as a result of its dealings with Gertler’s foreign companies, which shed light for the first time on the extent of these huge losses.

The report explained that Gertler's deals for 5 important concessions in the field of copper and cobalt led to a loss estimated at approximately $1.36 billion to the public treasury.

In 2017, the US Treasury Department decided to apply sanctions against Gertler based on the Magnitsky Act, which gives it the authority to freeze the assets of individuals involved in human rights violations or corruption activities.

The ministry stated that Gertler was able to amass enormous wealth through ambiguous contracts in the mining and oil sectors, worth hundreds of millions of dollars in Congo, taking advantage of his strong relationship with then-Congolese President Joseph Kabila.

The following year, the scope of the sanctions imposed on him expanded after he obtained mining licenses at low prices from the Congolese government and government companies, and then resold them to international partners at huge profits.

The lawsuit also included accusations of Gertler and his companies of financing rebel militias and seizing payments that were supposed to belong to the state and its official institutions.
Secret license

In early 2021, and during the last days of Donald Trump's administration, Gertler obtained a secret license extending for one year that exempted him from sanctions, after intense efforts by the Jewish lobby in the US.

However, this decision faced strong objections from anti-corruption activists and members of the US Congress, which led to its cancellation by the administration of President Joe Biden in March 2021.
Given the key position Gertler holds in strengthening Israeli influence on the African continent, Especially in the area of control of precious and strategic metals, he had to receive support from another influential Israeli figure, Ron Dermer, the former ambassador of Israel to the US.

Dermer emphasized the importance of “regional relations relevant to Israeli interests” as the main reason behind his attempts to remove Gertler from the US sanctions list.

Dermer and Cohen are considered among Netanyahu's closest and most trusted aides, carrying out secret missions at the behest of his government, and have been described by Netanyahu on several occasions as potential successors to him.

Independent of the corruption charges, and to gain the approval of President Tshisekedi's government, in November 2020, Gertler launched a financial initiative called "Yabisu", and claimed that he would share part of his proceeds from the "Metalcol" cobalt project with the Congolese people.

This scheme was harshly criticized for offering to give away what should have been state assets. However, Gertler continued to strongly reject the accusations against him, denying that he was carrying out illegal activities, and insisting on his contribution to creating a major investment shift in the DR of the Congo.

However, financial investigations announced in 2021 by the anti-corruption “Congo is Not for Sale” coalition refutes his claims, as the investigations revealed that the Democratic Republic of the Congo incurred losses of more than 3.71 billion US dollars as a result of suspicious mining and oil deals with Dan Gertler, benefiting from his strong relationship with Joseph. Kabila, who ruled Congo from 2001 to 2019, and his work as an intermediary in the country's most prominent mining deals.

A major dilemma
Recently, Gertler has become a major dilemma for the Congolese government, as it negatively affects the trade in diamonds used in local conflicts. The government's attempts to free the diamond trade from his control face threats of prosecution from his company, as it has the exclusive exploitation contract for those mines.

This is without forgetting that on February 9, 2024, Haaretz newspaper published a report stating that Dan Gertler was able to evade the US sanctions imposed on him, which represented the last hope of curbing his exploitation of the Congo.

The report reveals how he concealed a copper and cobalt mine valued at approximately $1.5 billion, bypassing the restrictions imposed on him.

This revelation prompted a group of observers to comment on the fraud news by saying that the United States is not serious in its war against corruption, especially about the business of the Israeli businessman.

According to these observers, the uproar that accompanied Gertler’s trial is nothing more than an American tactic aimed at containing emotions against Gertler’s companies on the one hand, and overlooking the Israeli exploitation of wealth in Africa on the other hand, given that Israeli influence in Africa is considered an extension of American influence.

This point of view seems very logical, as the activities of the businessman who serves Israel’s interests and influence in Africa are consistent with American influence from the perspective of international and geopolitical relations.

The sub-power of the empire:
This interconnection between the interests of America and Israel was discussed by Clinton Fernandez, professor at the University of New South Wales in Australia, in his book “The Sub-Power of the Empire.”
Fernandez, who previously held the rank of an Australian intelligence officer, says that countries such as Australia, Israel, and the United Kingdom are not client or client states as much as they are agents of the American empire, helping to maintain its influence in their regions.

Fernandez points out that the “geopolitics” of America and its agents is characterized by extreme aggressiveness, driven mainly by the financial class and wealthy elites who have a great influence on the state, which is evident in many historical examples. For example, the colonization and plunder of India began with the East India Company before the British state intervened to organize the colonization process. In the case of the war in Iraq, the motivation behind the war served the interests of American oil companies more than American national security.

Fernandez considers that the primary goal of the American international system is to create a global system that allows penetration and control by the national financial classes, which makes hegemony a primary goal that comes at the expense of security.

This explains why the exploitation of peoples affected by plunder in the DR of the Congo and elsewhere is overlooked by countries such as Israel and its businessmen, as this serves American imperial hegemony. This is therefore consistent with liberal thinking about amassing wealth, which explains why issues like the sanctions imposed on Gertler may be just a red herring.

In conclusion, there is a strong belief prevailing in academic circles that Dan Gertler represents one of the prominent examples of how Israel exploits businessmen as tools to enhance its geopolitical influence on the African continent, devoting a policy of penetration and penetration into it.

It is striking that there is no tangible manifestation indicating the existence of a real intention or serious intention to curb Gertler or put an end to his actions, which are being pursued by corruption charges, whether at the local level in the DR of Congo or the regional and international levels. Which reflects the negative impact and repercussions of this type of policy on economic stability in the African continent.

Read more Region and World
Jordan News