Washington – Biden administration moved on Monday Reapply financial restrictions On an Israeli mining executive who called on President Donald J. During Trump’s last days in office, he turned to a team of lobbyists to ease the measures.
Advocates of human rights, members of Congress and activists in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the businessman, Dan Gertler, retreated during the Trump administration through secure access to access to mining rights through the Treasury Department, the Trump administration said. A series of corrupt deals in Congo worth more than $ 1.3 billion in sales revenue.
In mid-January, shortly before Mr. Trump left office, Mr. Secretly protected One year Treasury Department License Unfollow that money deposited in financial institutions in the United States. The license effectively ended a prohibition on Mr. Gertler doing business through the international banking system. Trump administration had Imposed those restrictions In 2017.
The Biden administration is now moving to oppose those conditions, although Mr. Gertler is likely to have already transferred at least some of the frozen money out of the United States.
The State Department said on Monday that Mr. Gertler had “engaged in widespread public corruption” and that the Treasury Department was reversing its action in consultation with the State Department.
“The license already granted to Mr. Gertler is inconsistent with America’s strong foreign policy interests in combating corruption worldwide, particularly including American efforts to combat corruption and promote stability in the Democratic Republic of Congo “A State Department statement said. Monday. “The United States will continue to promote accountability for corrupt actors with all the tools to advance democracy, uphold international norms, and impose tangible costs on those who seek to raise them.”
Alan M. DershowitzA lawyer and lobbyist who helped represent Mr. Gertler in the push for a rollback of the sanctions said he was disappointed with the action of the Biden administration.
“Mr. Gertler stated that this decision was made in a unilateral manner to present evidence for Mr. Gertler that they were complying with all requirements and conducting themselves properly.” “We are now in the process of considering all our options.”
Mr. Gertler has been trading in the Congo for more than two decades, securing a series of contracts for the export of diamonds, gold, oil, cobalt and other minerals. The Treasury Department said in 2018 that they “shone their fortune through millions of dollars worth of opaque and corrupt mining.”
Mr. Gertler had promised US officials that he would comply with global anticorruption rules in exchange for licenses that the Treasury Department had given him in January. But officials in the Congo asked them to be free from sanctions there to ease efforts to fight corruption and limit the influence of the newly democratically elected president to the country’s former leader, Joseph Kabila, an aide to Mr. Gertler will help.
“Restoring sanctions helps Congolese and America’s anticorruption efforts get back on track,” John Prendergast, co-founder of The Sentry, a nonprofit human rights group that was in the meantime More than a dozen phoned the Biden administration License cancellation. “Dan Gertler’s corrupt partnership with former President Joseph Kabila made DRC costly for lost resources, lost services and, ultimately, lost lives.”
In 2019, Mr. Gertler hired Mr. Dershuwitz, Who later served as Mr. Trump’s lawyer, as well as Louis Freeh, a former FBI director, worked as a lobbyist to try to advance the Treasury to repeal the sanctions.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin instructed the acting director of the agency’s Office of Foreign Assets Control to step down, even after several Trump-era departmental officials in charge of United States relations with Africa Told The New York Times He was unaware that such a step was going to be taken and he opposed it.
After the issuance of the license went public, Mr. Gertler’s aides stated that the reason he was provided with special treatment was that he had played some unknown role in helping American national security interests. Treasury officers and representatives for Mr. Gertler would not describe the specific nature of the assistance.
The same office of the Treasury granted a license for Mr. Gertler in January, which canceled it on Monday, yet how unusual this series of events is.
Congo activists who have been working for years to try to ensure that the money produced by mining minerals in the nation – which is one of the The poorest in the worldEven though it has some of the most important mineral reserves in the world – he said he hopes the action will mean continuing progress to deal with corrupt deals that shorten the people there.
Fred Bauma, a member of Congo’s human rights group The Struggle for Change, said, “Here the government will find a little more emphasis on holding Dan Gartler and his associates accountable.” “This is a good message from the new administration in the United States.”
Democrats in Congress who called the Treasury for action also praised the move.
Senator Benjamin L. Cardin, a Democrat from Maryland and a member of Senate Foreign, said, “If international connected billionaires like Gertler think that there is a chance that they can get away with their corrupt actions, they will not be prevented from doing so.” The Relations Committee said in a statement.