Israeli Diamond Billionaire Sanctioned By U.S. Anti-Corruption Law
WASHINGTON (JTA) — Dan Gertler, an Israeli with extensive investments in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is among the first people targeted for sanctions under a new U.S. anti-international corruption law.
Dan Gertler is among “13 serious human rights abusers and corrupt actors,” the Treasury Department said in a release Thursday, who would be sanctioned under the Global Magnitsky Act passed in 2016. It is the first time the law is being applied.
Gertler “is an international businessman and billionaire who has amassed his fortune through hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of opaque and corrupt mining and oil deals in the Democratic Republic of the Congo,” the release said. “Gertler has used his close friendship with DRC President Joseph Kabila to act as a middleman for mining asset sales in the DRC, requiring some multinational companies to go through Gertler to do business with the Congolese state.”
As a result, mining assets are consistently underpriced upon sale to Gertler or his fronts, and then resold at real value, Treasury said, with the resultant kickbacks to Gertler and Kabila costing the Congo upward of $1 billion.
US sanctions add pressure on Israeli businessman Dan Gertler for Congo deals
A round of sanctions announced by the US targeting human rights and corruption has named Israeli businessman Dan Gertler for his “opaque and corrupt mining and oil deals” in the Democratic Republic of Congo, adding further pressure on companies that have done business with him.
The US Treasury said Mr Gertler had used his friendship with Joseph Kabila, the DRC president, to act as a middleman for sales of mining assets in the country, one of the world’s largest producers of copper and cobalt.
“Today, the United States is taking a strong stand against human rights abuse and corruption globally by shutting these bad actors out of the US financial system,” Steven Mnuchin, US treasury secretary, said. The sanctions increase the pressure on companies to cut ties with Mr Gertler or his related companies, since US citizens are prohibited from dealing with sanctioned individuals. In February mining giant Glencore announced it would pay $534m to Mr Gertler to buy him out of two copper mines in the DRC.
The Paradise Papers have brought us a wealth of information on some of our most reprehensible of “philanthropic” figures, not the least of which is Dan Gertler. As an ode to Dan, we decided that we would publish his story as the first of the Paradise Papers publications.
It is an remains our position that Gertler pilfered (raped was the word we initially wanted to use) an entire country out of mining rights to the detriment of the citizens of that country. It is and remains our position that his dealings with high-powered players in the Congo lead to the death of one such player (Katumba) and to the slaughter of people in the region.
Revealed: Glencore’s secret loan to secure DRC mining rights
The world’s largest mining company, Glencore, secretly loaned tens of millions of dollars to an Israeli billionaire after it enlisted him to secure a controversial mining agreement in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Paradise Papers reveal.
The documents show in forensic detail how the mining magnate Dan Gertler held Glencore’s imprimatur as key negotiator with DRC authorities.
The Paradise Papers, a leaked cache of documents including more than 6m from within Appleby, one of the world’s leading and most secretive offshore law firms, lay bare the arcane multi-jurisdictional dealings of Glencore, a scandal-plagued Swiss multinational with mining interests across the globe, but particularly in Africa.
The documents confirm that in 2009, Glencore loaned Gertler $45m with the caveat that it would be repayable if agreement with DRC authorities was not reached to secure a mining contract for a company linked to Glencore.
He is also alleged to be the unnamed “DRC Partner” cited in a 2016 US Department of Justice deferred prosecution agreement who, along with others, paid more than $100m in bribes over a decade to DRC government officials “to obtain special access to and preferential prices for opportunities” in the country’s mining sector for a US hedge fund.
The Paradise Papers confirm that several times over 2008 and 2009, Gertler was called in to negotiate with DRC authorities over the struggling Katanga copper mine in the south-east of the country, which was mired in stalled talks to secure a joint-venture agreement with DRC’s state-run miner Gécamines.
In 2009, Glencore, through a loan offer, took effective control of Katanga, but also kept Gertler’s interest in the company by secretly loaning his company Lora Enterprises $45m in pledged shares for him to take part in the loan. Gertler, known for his close relationship with DRC’s president and key adviser, was also tasked with securing the mining agreement.
“Glencore shall use its vote at the board of Katanga to have Dan Gertler exclusively mandated to assist Katanga in finalising the terms of the joint venture agreement,” the finance document shows.
But the Paradise Papers also reveal that the terms of the loan meant it could be recalled if the mining agreement was not secured. The term sheet states that it will be “immediately repayable on demand” if the agreement “is not finalised within three months”.
Glencore, and its forerunner company, have been accused of sanctions-busting in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, apartheid South Africa and Iran. In 2004, Glencore was cited by the CIA as having paid $3.2m in illegal kickbacks in violation of sanctions to Iraq’s state-run oil monopoly. It has also been accused of environmental pollution, poisoning rivers, and allowing child labour in its African mines. Glencore denies the allegations.
In February, Glencore bought Gertler out of their shared assets in DRC for $534m, a move described by analysts as an attempt by the company to disassociate itself from Gertler.
DRC is ranked by the UN as one of the least developed countries and has been blighted by near-constant civil war for decades. The massive landmass, as large as western Europe, is rich in mineral resources, making it a target for foreign powers and heavily armed rebel groups seeking to control lucrative assets.
The country remains mired in turmoil. Kabila, who took over the role from his father, Laurent-Désiré Kabila, in 2001 after he was assassinated by his bodyguards, refused to hold constitutionally mandated elections last year.
Billionaire Leviev Adds Zambia Emeralds to Diamond Portfolio
Billionaire Lev Leviev, who made his fortune undercutting De Beers’ former diamond monopoly, has bought half of one of Africa’s biggest emerald mines.
Leviev bought into the Grizzly emerald mine in Zambia’s Copperbelt province, which borders the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kombadayedu Kapwanga, managing director Leviev’s Namibian unit, said by phone. The operation has been renamed Gemcanton Investments Holdings.
A spokesperson for Africa Israel Investments Ltd., a listed company controlled in which Leviev is the biggest shareholder, didn’t return phone calls and emails seeking comment. A spokesperson at LLD Diamonds, Leviev’s jewelry business, didn’t return calls either. Leviev used his Israel-based diamond unit to purchase half of Grizzly, Kapwanga said, without providing further details.
The move into emeralds marks a change of course for Leviev. Born in Soviet Uzbekistan before fleeing to Israel in 1971, he worked as an apprentice in a diamond-polishing plant and established his own factory, striking deals with diamond-producing countries such as Russia and Angola.
He went on to own an 18 percent stake in Angola’s Catoca diamond mine, one of the world’s biggest, before selling to Chinese investors to focus on the Luminas mine in the African country. As well as his Leviev jewelry company, he controls a real estate empire from Moscow to New York through Africa-Israel Investments Ltd.
Emerald prices have soared by more than tenfold in the past eight years, as top producer Gemfields Plc sought to expand the market for the green stones and boost advertising. Emeralds were previously mainly produced by artisanal miners, meaning there wasn’t a consistent supply enough for retailers to run production lines or advertise them. The company owns the Kagem mine, Zambia’s biggest producer.
Gemfields Chief Executive Officer Ian Harebottle said the company has tried to contact Leviev.
“I’ve written to them a few times and said ‘welcome to the area, let’s talk.’ They’ve been non-responsive so far,” Harebottle said in April. “Colored stones offer a great opportunity with great growth potential. It was inevitable that someone else was going to look this way.”
Pallinghurst Resources, which has a 47 percent stake in Gemfields, made an offer in May to buy the shares it doesn’t already own in the company. An independent Gemfields committee said the offer undervalued the company.
Shares in Gemfields rose 3.7 percent by 13:11 p.m. in London to trade at 35 pence.
THE SYSTEMATIC DESTRUCTION OF MOISES GERTNER AND HIS BROTHER BY DAN GERTLER, HIS LAW FIRMS, HIS PR FIRMS HIS RELATIONSHIPS AND A SERIES OF COMPANIES, TRUSTS AND PARTNERS
LostMessiah – 23 June 2017
Earlier this week we published an article regarding Dan Gertler which made reference to a series of other articles, including to a blog post of paramount importance entitled: “Exposing African Mafia and Corruption” in a Blogspot – Purifying Africa. Interestingly the information published by Purifying Africa, though a series of what appears to be leaked emails from a law firm, seems to have been largely ignored by mainstream media. We believe it speaks volumes to the extent to which the Gertler empire will go to destroy its perceived adversaries.
The emails include correspondence written by an attorney by the name of Dory (Avigdor) Klagsbald of a law firm in Israel. The parties who are cc’d or otherwise mentioned in those emails include attorneys with Mishcon de Reya LLP, a series of consulting firms (namely public relations firms), and attorneys from Millbank, Tweed, another law firm.
The sole purpose of those emails appear to be outlining a strategy to unwind an individual voluntary arrangement (IVA) which was a negotiated agreement between Islandic Bank Haupthing and the Gertner brothers for repayment of a loan at what was to have been an undisclosed amount. That effort continues and has all but destroyed Moises Gertner.
It should be noted that much of the alleged payments of that loan and corresponding guarantees are in the form of interest and fees. We believe the current claims by CFL are tantamount to extortionery at this juncture, particularly since these events have dragged on for years and there were agreements in place to settle many of those loans. CFL Limited has sought and continues to seek systematically to undo formerly agreed upon settlements (Case No. 3482 of 2015 / BR-2015-02338).
The emails between Dori Klagsbald in our analysis refer in no uncertain terms to a methodology for undoing the IVA and dragging the Gertner brothers’ names through the silt, with what can only be deemed to be a carefully constructed PR campaign (steps to be taken “if necessary”). The party in whose interest this carefully crafted scheme has been devised, is an Israeli owned company CFL Finance (a Dan Gertler company). CFL was in 2015 allegedly owed only 12Million Pounds, a paltry amount in comparison to the 557M pounds that was the subject of the IVA and the agreed repayment to Haupthing. Again, to reiterate much of the currently disputed money is comprised of interest and penalties. The fact that it is still ungoing and leaves the Gertner brothers in a constant stated of disquiet is likely of greater value to Gertler.
We reiterate the articles and the historical context should not be taken in a vacuum. In fact, we contend that the death of Katumba , the information regarding the Fleurette Group, Glencore Plc, Ellesmere Global (BVI) can similarly not be read exclusive of the other articles and the timeframe involved. When read in context with an earlier published Ha’Aretz article and dozens of other articles and publications, it is abundantly clear that Dan Gertler, along with his attorneys and public relations firms, has since at least 2013 made concerted and systematic efforts in no uncertain terms to destroy anyone or anything that stands in the way of his constantly increasing wealth.
We will continue by slowly introducing the cast of questionable figures including another character in this case of Gertler v. Gertner, an Israeli lawyer named Yaakov Weinrot. We note Mr. Weinrot claims to have been owed many millions of dollars by the Gertner brothers, was apparently hired by them in the context of their dealings in the Congo; but also apparently participated in the smear campaign against them on behalf of Dan Gertler. We leave that piece for another day.
Our sources are publicly available. As many of the articles state, the Congo is one of the worlds most mineral-rich countries. And yet, it is the poorest and least developed. The Congolese people are the victims of extraordinary greed, the greed of their government, the greed of so-called “investors” like Dan Gertler and the corresponding corruption and fraud.
Finally, we note in the interest of full disclosure that we have not independently investigated the Gertner brothers on their other dealings, most of which appear to have been real estate investments. We have found significant evidence of charitable giving but make no judgment one way or the other. We firmly believe them to be victims of Dan Gertler and his ‘mafia’ of attorneys, PR firms, and co-conspirators. We write the series of exposés in the hopes that perhaps the Gertner brothers and numerous other victims of Dan Gertler and his associates’ greed will find justice.
Congo rights group: Army kills 12 rebels after Beni attacks
BENI, Congo — Congo’s army fought off attacks in and around the eastern city of Beni on Thursday, killing at least 12 assailants and capturing seven, a local human rights group said.
Two soldiers also were killed in the fighting and several people were wounded, including students taking exams, said Omar Kavota, executive director of the Center for Studies of Peace and Defense of Human Rights.
Kavota blamed a new rebel coalition for the bombing of a school and attempted attacks on a women’s prison, a police station and the town hall.
The death toll could rise as Congo’s military pursues other attackers, he said.
Beni Mayor Nyonyi Bwanakawa blamed the attack on Mai Mai rebels. Kavota, however, warned that a new rebel coalition has formed outside Beni after armed men on June 11 attacked the city’s central Kangbayi prison, killing at least 11 and freeing 900 prisoners.
The new coalition, which Kavota called the National Revolutionaries Movement, is likely composed of rebels from the Mai Mai, Allied Democratic Forces and former M23 members who escaped prison.
Kavota said the new coalition may have external political and military support, given the logistics of the attacks, and he called on the government and military to quickly dismantle the group.
Kavota, whose organization tracks civilian deaths in the region, also called on the military to increase protection of civilians and public places.
Eastern Congo is home to multiple armed groups that compete for control of the region’s vast mineral resources.
Was the death of Augustin Katumba Mwake in 2012 an accident?
Is what appears to be a very close relationship between Joseph Kabila, (who wrested control of Congo after his father was assassinated) and Dan Gertler deniable?
Had Dan Gertler as of 2014 really attracted $7 billion worth of investment in the Congo (as he claimed to critics then) or simply exploited the country for its resources, and the Congolese people for cheap labor?
Billionaire mining financier Dan Gertler has been accused by human rights group Global Witness of a strip and flip transaction in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Bloomberg reports according to official records Nessergy, an oil driller owned by the Israeli businessman, paid $500,000 for 95% of Congo’s portion of the offshore block in 2006.
Congo’s government paid $150 million to buy it back last year, according to le Soft, a Kinshasa-based newspaper, but none of the details of the transaction has been made public despite DRC government regulations requiring large contracts involving the country’s natural resources be made publicly available within 60 days.
Bloomberg could not secure comments from either Nessergy nor the African nation’s Oil Minister, while Gertler’s financing firm, the Fleurette Group, said it is protected by confidentiality agreements with the DRC and Angola, which are jointly developing the field.
Reuters quotes a Fleurette spokesperson as saying the $500,000 signing bonus was “the standard amount companies paid to Congo for oil rights at the time the contract was agreed” and that the block’s value had risen sharply since discoveries in nearby Angolan fields.
It is not the first time Gertler’s name has been mentioned with regard to questionable natural resource deals in the DRC.
Gertler is the grandson of Moshe Schnitzer, Israeli diamond exchange founder, and arrived in the Congo in 1997 shortly after the military coup that put current president Joseph Kabila’s father in charge of the resource rich country which is almost the size of Western Europe.
Gertler is said to have used his relationship with the younger Kabila and his now late adviser Augustin Katumba Mwanke to bag mining projects “by stripping from others if necessary, only to sell them on at great profit.”
Now delisted Kazakh mining group ENRC, was forced to pay out $1.25 billion to Canadian mining firm First Quantum in 2012 after the DRC government expropriated First Quantum’s Kolwezi copper projects in the country only to sell them onto ENRC via Gertler.
ENRC acquired a 50.5% stake in Camrose, a company controlled by the Gertler family trust, for $550 million last year.
Camrose owns a stake in Africo Resources, listed in Toronto, which partners with DRC’s state-owned Gecamines in various copper-cobalt, gold and iron projects and dominates the DRC diamond trade.
Kabila has on occasion dispatched Gertler as special peace envoy for the DRC and Gertler answers his critics by saying he’s attracted $7 billion worth of much-needed investment to the war-torn country.