U.S. reimposes sanctions on Israeli tycoon accused of corruption in DR Congo

Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler, left, takes a tour of the Katanga Mining Ltd. copper and cobalt mine complex with Shimon Cohen, right, his communications advisor, right, in Kolwezi, Democratic Republic of Congo, on Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2012. Since he first arrived in wartime Congo in 1997 at only 23 years old, Gertler has amassed an empire worth almost $2.5 billion dollars, according to Bloomberg calculations using publicly available documents. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler, left, takes a tour of the Katanga Mining Ltd. copper and cobalt mine complex with Shimon Cohen, right, his communications advisor, right, in Kolwezi, Democratic Republic of Congo. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The United States reimposed curbs Monday on an Israeli billionaire accused of corruption in the Democratic Republic of Congo, reversing a move by Donald Trump during his last days in office.

Rights groups had urged Joe Biden’s new administration to halt the recent easing of sanctions on mining tycoon Dan Gertler, whom Washington claims deprived the DRC of $1.4 billion in tax revenues over the past decade.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price said the license granted to Gertler five days before Trump left the White House had been revoked, as it was “inconsistent with America’s strong foreign policy interests in combatting corruption around the world.”

The United States hit Gertler with sanctions in December 2017 over mining deals struck with help from his friend, then-Congolese president Joseph Kabila.

John Prendergast, the co-founder of The Sentry investigative non-profit group, welcomed Monday’s decision to again tighten measures against Gertler.

“Gertler’s corrupt partnership with former president Joseph Kabila cost the DRC dearly in terms of lost resources, lost services, and, ultimately, lost lives,” Prendergast said.

“Restoring the sanctions enables Congolese and US anti-corruption efforts to get back on track.”

While Gertler and his firms had remained on the sanctions list, the Trump-granted license allowed their transactions to go ahead and unfroze some of their assets.