ISRAELI businessman Dan Gertler has enlisted the support of Congo president Felix Tshisekedi in having US sanctions revoked, the New York Times has reported.
The newspaper cited a letter it had seen in which Tshisekedi writes: “The Democratic Republic of Congo no longer has any grievances against Mr. Gertler and his group”. The letter, sent to US President Joe Biden, asks that Gertler from US National Treasury’s sanctions list.
Tshisekedi’s support comes after Gertler agreed to return to Congo an estimated $2bn worth of mining and oil drilling rights secured over the past two decades.
In exchange, the Congolese government agreed to pay Mr. Gertler’s companies $260m and to help him lobby in Washington to have the sanctions revoked, the New York Times said. The move would allow Congo to resell the mining rights to new investors.
However, human rights groups cited by the newspaper say Gertler is not paying for having robbed the country of income as he is still entitled to collect potentially tens of millions of dollars a year in royalties on copper and cobalt mining in the country.
“Far from paying an appropriate consequence for his actions, Mr. Gertler will keep collecting an average of $200,000 a day in royalties from these three highly lucrative mining projects for at least another decade,” human rights groups said in a letter sent last month to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, urging them to leave the sanctions in place.