U.S Secretary Urged to Reinstate Gertler Sanctions Over DR Congo Deal

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is being urged by a number of lawmakers in the Democratic House to reverse the Trump administration’s decision in its final days to lift sanctions against Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler.

The U.S. sanctioned Gertler and his companies in 2017 in the Democratic Republic of Congo, one of the world’s poorest nations, for allegedly illicit mining and oil transactions. But in his final days in office, President Donald Trump’s Secretary of the Treasury, Steven Mnuchin, issued a license to allow Gertler and his firms to resume business by January 2022.

Representatives Karen Bass and Gregory Meeks from the House Foreign Affairs Committee wrote to Yellen in a letter Wednesday, “We strongly encourage you to revoke this license as soon as possible”.

Gertler served as a middleman between multinational corporations and the Congolese state and on behalf of former President Joseph Kabila at the time of Gertler’s sanctioning, Treasury said.

Gertler recruited high-profile defense lawyer Alan Dershowitz and former FBI director Louis Freeh to lobby the U.S. government to remove him from the list of sanctions. In his first impeachment hearing, Dershowitz also represented Trump.

Lawmakers Bass and Meeks say that the license received by Gertler “appears to have almost entirely bypassed established inter-agency procedures,” adding that Treasury did not show how Gertler displayed contrition in return for penalty relief.

Signed on Jan. 15, the license allows Gertler and his businesses to resume business at least before the license expires. Andrea Gacki, a long-time civil servant who is the director of the Office of Foreign Assets Management, approved it.

“In fact, the publicly available evidence demonstrates the opposite is true. Since being sanctioned, he has created shell companies, opened accounts with tiny financial institutions in the DRC over which he maintains control, and received pay in foreign currencies to circumvent our laws,” they said

A Gertler spokesman did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment, but last week, according to Bloomberg in a statement, that we will introduce and enforce the most rigorous anti-bribery and anti-corruption policies and initiatives across all our global practices prior to participating in any previously prohibited activities.

Educator, writer and legal researcher at Alafarika for Studies and Consultancy.

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