July 12, 2024

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Billionaire under sanctions could get $300mn in controversial US-Congo deal

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Dan Gertler, a billionaire under sanctions, is set to receive hundreds of millions of dollars as part of a controversial US plan to lift restrictions on the Israeli tycoon if he sells his remaining mining interests in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Gertler was sanctioned by the US Treasury in 2017 for alleged corrupt dealing in Congo, but retains lucrative royalty streams from three mining projects there.

Under the US proposal, the Treasury would provide Gertler with “special” licences to sell the three royalty streams back to the Congolese government and would eventually grant him a “general” licence to regain access to the US financial system.

The total amount Gertler would receive is yet to be decided, but US officials expect it to be somewhere around $300mn, according to two people who asked not to be identified discussing the financial terms of the deal, which have not previously been reported.

The US officials behind the proposal argue that removing Gertler from Congo would create more opportunities for US-friendly companies to access metals such as a copper and cobalt. Both minerals are vital to the buildout of clean energy infrastructure.

The Biden administration has placed access to such critical minerals at the heart of its policies on central Africa and has sought to deepen ties in Congo since the election of President Félix Tshisekedi in a rigged vote in 2018.

Congo is the world’s largest source of cobalt and Africa’s biggest producer of copper, but the country’s mining sector is dominated by Chinese companies.

The Gertler proposal has provoked criticism from civil society groups and at least four members of US Congress, who warned last month that lifting the Treasury’s restrictions in a deal that further enriched the billionaire would undermine the credibility of the US sanctions regime.

“We fear that if…

2024-06-16 16:00:08

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