Dan Gertler and T.O.T Investigative Stories Hidden on Google, Whatever Happens in Congo? Dan does not want us to know…

Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler


Dan Gertler Is There A Future In Congo?


“Nothing happens in Congo without Dan Gertler and Gertler can do nothing without playing the Israeli card,” said an advisor to an international mining conglomerate.

But the net is tightening around the Israeli billionaire mining magnate who dominates the economic life of the resource rich but economically impoverished Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Building an empire in Congo

The Israeli mining magnate has been fundamental in the Kabila family’s control of the DRC over the past two decades. But the 42-year-old billionaire, who was the inspiration of for the movie Blood Diamond starring Leonardo DiCaprio, is now under international scrutiny over corruption.

Meanwhile, his main Congolese ally, President Joseph Kabila, is clinging on by his fingertips to power. The fragile situation in the Central African rentier state threatens to drag the Israeli security establishment into a renewed conflict to defend the billionaire’s interests.

There has always been a quid pro quo relationship between Gertler and Kinshasa that is heavily weighted to his corporate interests. His political influence in DRC is said to have begun shortly after his entry in 1997, when he shored up the government of Laurent Kabila by offering the late president $20 million to head off a rebellion in the east.

The rebels posed a major risk to the regime as it was attempting to establish itself. In exchange for this help, his IDI Diamonds firm was given exclusive rights on the purchase of artisanal diamonds.

The monopoly was ended by Joseph Kabila following his father’s assassination in 2001. But a deal was struck in which Gertler paid $15 million for the rights to 88 percent of the output of national diamond producer La Société Minière de Bakwanga (MIBA). Gertler’s uncle, Shmuel Schnitzer, is honorary president of the Israel Diamond Exchange.

One Israeli Defense source has also claimed that Gertler paid the Kabila government $40 million for a former Mossad chief and ex-soldiers to arm, train and direct Congolese special forces to put down the brutal Rwandan-backed M23 rebel group in an operation with the United Nations in 2013.

According to this source, the materiel was sourced from Israel and Russia.

It is claimed the operation was not officially backed by the Israeli government, but given the scale of Israeli security involvement would have probably given an informal nod of approval.

With a reputation for mass rape and slaughter, M23 had been operating out of the Virunga National Park in the unstable North Kivu province. The group’s violent operations were hindering efforts to develop the region’s potentially massive oil reserves. Ending the rebellion helped remove a problem for Kabila.

Following in Leopold’s footsteps

The sums Gertler has spent on consolidating the Kabila regime’s control over a vast territory are a fraction of the wealth he seems to have accrued allegedly as a fixer between international capital and Kinshasa. Not since Belgium’s notorious King Leopold II plundered Congo for ivory and rubber has a foreigner acquired such control and influence over the country.

Gertler has secured a reputation for buying up mining and oil prospecting rights from the government, via his high level political connections, and selling them at huge mark-ups. Over two decades, his position as gatekeeper has enabled him to dominate the copper and cobalt mining sectors in the resource-rich Katanga province, giving him personal control over nearly 10 percent of world cobalt production.

In recent years, he has turned his attention to oil exploration in the country’s potentially highly lucrative yet risky frontier prospects.

Gertler’s Oil of DRC start-up has found reserves estimated at 3 billion barrels of oil in Lake Albert. Put into context, his concessions potentially contain more oil than Syria or the UK. Oil production from the reserves would boost DRC’s economy by 25 percent, thereby consolidating Gertler’s power base in the country.

To get these commodities out of the country, Gertler has also secured an interest in infrastructural development, giving him control over the economy’s most strategically important sectors and amassing himself a huge net worth worthy of an entry into the Forbes Billionaires list.

Many of these assets are owned by the Gertler Family Trust or grouped under the Fleurette Group, which owns stakes in various Congolese mines through at least 60 holding companies in offshore tax havens such as the British Virgin Islands. Placed beyond public scrutiny, Fleurette’s investments are regarded by critics as asset stripping with his acquisitions made at a fraction of their true value.

Gertler and Congo’s web of corruption

Gertler believes the criticism of his political role in DRC is unjust. Instead, he told Bloomberg that he should be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his role.

However, the symbiotic relationship between Gertler and President Kabila is looking into the abyss as Congolese society becomes increasingly angry at his attempts to bend the constitution to lengthen his tenure.

At the same time, global corruption investigations are closing the net on the billionaire, leaving him vulnerable to prosecution and a post-Kabila political backlash in DRC.

The DRC is said to have suffered huge losses in revenue due to the alleged undervaluation of state assets in various privatisations, many involving Gertler.

In September, Och-Ziff Capital Management Group agreed the pay over $400 million in a settlement with US authorities over its alleged payment of Gertler to allegedly bribe Congolese officials to the tune of $100 million for mining rights. No charges were brought against Gertler by the Justice Department or the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Two months later, Gertler’s nemesis Global Witness, an NGO that fights corruption in the global natural resources industry, reported that the state mining company Gecamines signed over royalty rights to the Israeli plutocrat.

Royalties amounting to up to $880 million that were due to Gecamines from Glencore’s KCC copper project in southeast Congo were assigned to an anonymous Cayman Islands company called Africa Horizons, which is part of Fleurette Group.

It is unclear what, if anything, was paid to Gecamines, whose earnings could make a significant fiscal contribution to alleviating poverty in one of the world’s poorest countries. The NGO has accused Glencore of knowingly entering loss-making deals to appease the billionaire as the DRC’s central power broker.

According to Bloomberg, in December the UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) began investigating Gertler and four former Eurasian Natural Resources Corp. (ENRC) executives as part of a three-year probe into the Kazakh company’s acquisition of DRC copper and cobalt mining projects.

The deals may have violated UK fraud and bribery laws, for which individual offenses carry penalties of as long as 10 years in prison or an unlimited fine. The IMF had, in 2012, cancelled a $532 million loan to DRC for Gecamines’ failure to disclose the transfer of its stake in another ENRC project to a BVI-registered company controlled by Gertler.

While Gertler’s business empire sinks into international controversy, DRC has been teetering on the brink of a third civil war after Kabila failed to step down at the end of his two-term limit in December. Protests erupted across the country, prompting the Catholic Church to step in to broker an agreement between the government and the opposition.

This would see the president standing down at the end of 2017 after presidential elections, a scenario that most Congolese do not think he will do voluntarily. Besides, Kabila’s hugely popular challenger the wealthy businessman and former Katanga governor Moïse Katumbi – is in exile in Belgium, having been convicted in absentia for corruption and sentenced to 36 months’ imprisonment.

If Kabila, his family and allies leave power, any successor is likely to confront endemic corruption to diminish his influence.

Documents from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting suggest that Kabila and his family control 120 mining permits and have direct and indirect links to a wide variety of businesses including banks, farms, fuel distributors, pharmaceutical suppliers and airlines.

Stripping away Kabila’s business empire could involve an anti-corruption drive that could sweep up Gertler and other friends of the President.

Israel’s response to Kabila’s fall

The mining baron may be tempted to secure backing from his Israeli connections to shore up the Kabila regime in one form or another, including the possibility that he could rule through his twin sister Jaynet Kabila or another puppet.

A step towards a Mobutu-style tyranny would precipitate another deadly conflict in a country that has lost a million lives due to past civil wars and foreign interventions.

The forces that were deployed to put down foreign-inspired rebellions in eastern DRC could be deployed against the Congolese opposition, bankrolled by Gertler and allegedly with the tacit approval of the Israeli security establishment. Such a scenario would drag Israel into a renewed conflict in the Great Lakes region.

Why would Israel get involved in Congo with such high stakes? In an article for the Jerusalem Post last April, Yossi Melman stated that a pro-Africa parliamentary lobby had been established in the Knesset to promote Israeli interests in the continent.

Interests fall into three main areas: the political-diplomatic interest in preventing anti-Israel UN resolutions, the promotion of economic ties and the strategic and military interest in advancing arms sales and combating terrorism.

Israel has traditionally trained and equipped the military guards around African dictators in the pursuit of these objectives.

Since the early 1970s, Israeli military industries and former military and intelligence officials have, with the backing of the Israeli security establishment, provided security assistance and arms to African dictators, including DRC’s former dictator Mobutu Sese Seko.

Dan Gertler is intimately associated with Israel’s military, economic and political elite. He is close to several Israeli politicians, especially Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, founding leader of the right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu party. He could seek to utilise these links to maintain DRC’s status quo.

However, there are signs that Israel is losing patience with its roving billionaires. In December, Gertler associate Benny Steinmetz who also earned his billions from diamond mining in Africa was put under house arrest under suspicion of bribery and money laundering in a long-running dispute over the $20 billion Simandou project in Guinea. He has yet to face charges and denies wrongdoing. Gertler may face a similar fate if his corporate activities come under the spotlight of investigation.

Meanwhile, the Foreign Ministry has taken a greater role in international relations, eating into the power of the Defense Ministry, which has operated as a state-within-a-state. The involvement of diplomats in relations with Africa has moderated the more militaristic inclinations of the past.

In this context, diplomats will be cautioning the Israel not to involve themselves in the quagmire of Central African politics on Gertler’s behalf, mindful of the long-term damage this could do to its diplomatic leverage in Africa. In this case, Israel may warn the security establishment and associated freelancing mercenaries to abandon Gertler to secure influence in a post-Kabila scenario.


Fundamentalism of the Haredi Kind – The Haredi Brand of Hamas, Next they Start Teaching Children to Blow Themselves Up…



‘Kill next woman soldier you see’ reads flier against haredi IDF service

In a severe escalation of incitement against haredi (ultra-Orthodox) enlistment in the IDF, a flyer was recently distributed in Jerusalem’s ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods that called for the murder of women soldiers, IDF commanders and anyone involved in recruiting haredi men into the army.

Until now, the campaign against haredi IDF service has refrained from calling for violence, sufficing instead with severe incitement and vitriolic verbal attacks against haredi soldiers, officers and recruiters.

The flyer, however, is very different from materials normally printed and distributed by such groups. Some doubt has surfaced as to whether the flyers were part of the central anti-enlistment campaign because its wording is unlike that of standard pashkavillim, public notices commonly used in the haredi community.

It was also not professionally printed, as are regular pashkavillim and anti-haredi military service materials.

The flyer, titled “A Ruling of Jewish Law,” instructs young haredi men who are drafted into the IDF: “If they take you by force to the army of destruction, it is permitted for you and you must do the following actions: Take the rifle that you received and kill any woman soldier you come across so she merits [the precept of] ‘be killed instead of transgressing.’ Kill any [IDF] commander who holds you [in the army] by force. Kill anyone who drafts or entices or helps [to draft haredi men].”

The notice also said that soldiers should kill themselves in order to fulfill the precept of ‘be killed instead of transgressing,’ which in normative Jewish law applies only to instances in which one must murder, engage in forbidden sexual relationships or commit idolatry.

Police are investigating the source of the pamphlet, which incites to violence.

For the last four years, extremists in the ultra-Orthodox community have waged a campaign against haredi men serving in the IDF out of belief that the state is trying to eradicate their religious identity by secularizing them in the army.

Ultra-Orthodox IDF soldiers, officers and officials involved in encouraging haredi enlistment have frequently been subjected to verbal abuse, physical assault, harassment and even death threats. Flyers, posters and booklets inciting against haredi IDF enlistment have been published and disseminated in ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods.

A poster that is certainly part of the anti-enlistment campaign, which was disseminated earlier this week in Bnei Brak and Beit Shemesh, promises as much as NIS 810 to haredi children if they verbally abuse haredi soldiers.

The poster lauded an incident last month in which a haredi child engaged in abusive behavior toward a haredi soldier and was detained by the police.

The poster noted that the child’s behavior was “in keeping with the Torah and the instructions of the leading rabbis who have ruled that one must disgrace [haredi soldiers].”

“Remember pure children! You are on the side of Torah, the side of God, you will be victorious! These evil people will not succeed in destroying your future,” reads the poster, which refers to haredi soldiers as “hardak,” an insult meaning weak-minded haredi.

“But, so that we too will have a portion in your massive merit, we have decided to grant to all children who they dare to put in a police patrol car – because he fulfilled the religious commandment to shout ‘hardaks get out’ – a present or voucher worth NIS 530, a number that has the numeric value of ‘hardaks get out now,’” states the poster.

Any child struck during the arrest, the poster promises, will receive a further award of NIS 290, the numeric value of “fist.”

Only those under the age of 15 qualify for the reward, which will be delivered to the child’s house, according to the poster.

Police have stepped up efforts in recent months to counter assaults against haredi IDF soldiers, conducting arrests and investigations against those behind the incitement campaign.


Bnei Brak Parents too Afraid to Report that their Children are Being Molested


A Bnei Brak Teacher Molests Children but Parents are Too Afraid to React

Last night Israeli Channel 2 broadcasted another horrifying story from Bnei Brak, where a number of parents believe that one of the teachers has been sexually abusing their children for a several years. When approached, the principal confirmed that the suspect “strokes children – it’s true, no doubt about it.”

Nevertheless, the parents are frightened to take the matter further. Unfortunately, due to the culture of silence in their community, not one of these parents has so far been willing to approach the police to make a formal complaint.

One parent was recorded anonymously. He told how, “My wife said to me, ‘Don’t do it. You’ll pay a heavy price. Why are you getting involved in this story?’”

“Three years now L is raping children and everybody’s silent! Is this Torah education?!” the parent added.

Racheli Roshgold of Lo Tishtok, an NGO which combats sexual violence in the Haredi community, said, “I have personally witnessed the absolute fear that reigns within this Chassidic sect. More people were in touch with me, but they adamantly refuse to be revealed, they’re not willing to go to the police, despite my attempts to persuade them. And they also explain with great pain why they are unable to speak to the police.”

The voice of another parent with a child in the school was also broadcast anonymously: “There’s nothing we can do, we’re frightened, we have nowhere else to send the children, if not this school. And they threatened us that if we go to the police or co-operate with the investigations, then they’ll kick us out of the system.”

You can watch the full report in Hebrew here.




T.O.T Reports – Crusaders Fighting Sexual Abuse in Israel

Israel, Money Laundering


Israel: Police Announce Arrests In Money Laundering Operation

Three persons were arrested by Israel Police on Thursday, 8 Iyar as the primary suspects in a money laundering operation, including one chareidi suspect. Police report the operation involved millions of shekels and the suspects are residents of both Jerusalem and Netanya and they are in their thirties.

It appears that they obtained funds from abroad fraudulently and they laundered the money here in Israel. The operation has been going on for a number of years. During the predawn hours of Thursday however, the clandestine investigation went public as police moved in to make the arrests. Armed with search warrants, police carried out searches of their homes at the time of the arrests.

Is Desecrating the Shabbat Okay if it Allows the Haredim to Celebrate?



Originally Posted on FrumWatch: https://www.facebook.com/frumwatch/

Haredim are not disciplined, they do what they want’

Northern police rabbi says haredi community can’t have it both ways, haredi community forces police to desecrate Shabbat against their will.

Israel Police North Division Rabbi Anshel Friedman on Wednesday morning spoke about the recent complaints about how Israel Police are preparing for the upcoming Lag Baomer celebrations.

Thousands of police officers will be expected to desecrate Shabbat in order to prepare for the influx of thousands of Israelis and tourists who will come to Meron on Saturday night and Sunday.

Lag Baomer is the anniversary of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai’s passing. Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, also known by his initials as “Rashbi” is believed to be the author of the Zohar.

“You want the police to keep Shabbat?” Rabbi Friedman said. “The haredi community is not disciplined, and it does what it wants. For instance, on Friday afternoon, about 10-15 minutes after Shabbat starts, cars carrying haredim travel up the mountain – and the police have to be there to stop it.”

In an interview with the Kol Barama Radio, Rabbi Friedman said the police have “no interest” in working on Shabbat, and in fact want the police officers to rest on Shabbat.

“Until the haredi community, and other religious communities, decide they will not arrive in Meron before Sunday morning, the Israel Police will be forced to desecrate Shabbat in order to be on the scene when they are needed,” he said.


Wealth Recovery and Binary Options Scams – Fighting Fraud and Obtaining Recovery

THE FORWARD : http://forward.com/news/breaking-news/369906/american-immigrants-win-back-millions-for-victims-of-massive-fraud-in-israe/

American Immigrants Win Back Millions For Victims Of Massive Fraud In Israel

TEL AVIV (JTA) — They were part of the problem. Now they are spearheading a solution.

A Tel Aviv-based startup run by young American Jewish immigrants to Israel, or olim, has taken on the largely fraudulent binary options industry centered in this country that has been estimated to generate as much as $10 billion a year. Owned and staffed in part by former binary options employees, Wealth Recovery International has used its insider knowledge to its advantage.

“Because I worked in the industry, I understand how these companies operate,” Wealth Recovery’s co-founder Austin Smith, 33, who calls himself a one-time fraudster, said in an interview at the company’s office. “I feel a responsibility to go ahead and help people.”

In the absence of serious action against binary options fraud by Israel authorities, Wealth Recovery has helped a couple dozen alleged victims of the industry reclaim a total of more than $4 million. The company has grown rapidly since it was founded in early 2016, in some cases by helping victims of its own employees.

The binary options industry has emerged in Israel over the past decade. According to The Times of Israel, which has been investigating the industry for nearly a year, more than 100 Israel-based companies have defrauded hundreds of thousands of people worldwide of billions of dollars – and been blamed for at least one suicide.

Binary options websites have allowed clients to place short-term bets on whether a commodity will increase or decrease in value. In most cases, though, the companies behind the websites have been suspected of rigging the game to take all or nearly all of their clients’ money. Posing as investment houses based in financial capitals like London, they have used aggressive sales tactics to maximize deposits and various ploys to avoid withdrawals. Their identities have been obscured by complex corporate structures that span multiple international jurisdictions, including tax havens.

Thousands of olim from the United States and around the world have played a role in helping the binary options companies target foreigners in their native languages. Former employees of several of the companies said more than half their co-workers were olim, and most of them were Americans. Money has been a major draw, with the olim often earning several times what they could otherwise hope to in Tel Aviv, one of the most expensive cities in the world.

“David Roth,” a 24-year-old from Southern California, asked to go by the pseudonym he has used as a Wealth Recovery salesman to protect himself from retaliation by binary options companies. After making aliyah several years ago and serving as a combat soldier in the Israeli army, he worked briefly at a fast food restaurant in Tel Aviv, making about $1,000 a month before finding work in binary options. In a good month as a salesman, Roth brought in more than $30,000, mostly on commission.

“It’s a hard country, and I’m here alone. I was trying to build myself something to fall back on,” he said. “Working my ass off at a burger place for 4-5,000 shekels a month max wasn’t getting me anywhere. The problem is that working in binary made me a terrible person, and it eventually broke me.”

Former binary options employees have described the industry’s culture as depraved. Trained to lie and apply maximum pressure, salespeople have worked late into the night to hard-sell clients in foreign time zones. Managers have encouraged them to have no mercy, whether the target was a pensioner or a cancer patient.

At the central Tel Aviv office of Numaris Communication, a one-time provider of sales and other services for the BinaryBook brand, Smith and another former employee described a vulgar and hard-partying culture straight out of “The Wolf of Wall Street.” After winning a big deposit, salespeople played the video of a song adapted from an episode of the animated TV comedy “South Park.” Together the office would sing the chorus: “And, it’s gone,” referring to the client’s deposit.

BinaryBook, which has faced legal action in Britain, did not respond to multiple interview requests. Wealth Recovery and the St. Louis-based Hamm Law Firm have begun preparing a class action lawsuit against another service provider for the brand, Ukom, on behalf of 120 American clients.

In February, weeks after law enforcement officials from North American and Europe held an emergency meeting on binary options fraud in the Hague, the FBI said it was investigating the industry around the world. The United States in 2013 had outlawed the marketing of binary options to its citizens, except on a handful of regulated exchanges.

Last spring, Israel allowed binary options companies to operate in the country as long as they refrained from targeting its citizens. In August, Jewish Agency head Natan Sharansky urged the government to shutter the “repugnant, immoral” industry. And in October, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office called for a worldwide ban on its “unscrupulous” practices.

Earlier this year, the Knesset’s State Control Committee held two hearings on the government’s failure to deal with binary options fraud. Despite arguments by binary options advocates that entirely shutting down the industry could hurt Israel’s economy and encourage terrorism, the hearings resulted in draft legislation that would do just that.

Michael Oren, a former Israeli ambassador to the United States and current deputy minister, called binary options a threat to the Jewish state’s international standing and urged olim to steer clear of the industry for their own sake and that of their adopted country. He said the Knesset should launch an investigation into the industry.

“The binary options scheme could be ruinous for Israel’s foreign relations,” he told JTA. “I would tell olim: Your moral standards and Israel’s interests should deter you from engaging in this type of activity. There’s enough work in other fields.”

Wealth Recovery has provided alternative employment for a small but growing number of American olim, most of them in their 20s and 30s. Smith and his two co-owners made aliyah, or immigrated to Israel, from the United States, as did most of the people who work for them. Nearly half the staff, including Smith and another co-founder, came from binary options companies. Others chose to work at Wealth Recovery rather than enter the industry.

Former binary options employees have been essential to Wealth Recovery’s success. Their fluency in English and familiarity with the scams have prepared them to pitch the company’s services. They have used some of the same marketing and sales tactics for Wealth Recovery as they did at their previous jobs, including going by pseudonyms. But they said the motive for that has changed from deceiving the client to hiding from the binary options industry, which has threatened those who cross it.

“I have nothing to hide from clients anymore. I’m helping them here,” Roth said. “But it’s really easy for people from binary to call us, and a lot of the managers of these companies are serious criminals. You don’t want to mess with them.”

Smith, whom clients have known as Mitch Williams, for the first time opened up about his company under his real name for this article as part of an effort to position himself as a public opponent of the binary options industry, which he said he hopes will offer him another kind of protection.

“I want to distinguish myself from all the fraud around me. I want people to know what they should look for in a legitimate recovery company,” he said. “Hopefully binary companies will think twice about coming after me once my name is in the newspaper.”

Smith has also begun investing more heavily in advertising and public outreach. He will speak at an anti-fraud conference in Miami later this month, and will sponsor minor league NASCAR driver Stephen Young during a series of races in August. Young gave Wealth Recovery a discounted rate because he was scammed by binary options companies in the past.

Former binary options employees, whom Smith said often require some “deprogramming” when he hires them, have also been an asset to Wealth Recovery when it comes to gathering information — the company’s stock in trade. Wealth Recovery has gathered intelligence by developing sources within the binary options industry and searching public records. Yet to have one of its cases tried in court, the company has relied on what Smith called a “shock and awe” approach to pressure more than $4 million in settlements.

“The key is to go after little people – the ones who are working the phones and actually taking the money,” he said, “They’ll freak out and pressure their bosses to settle, or they’ll turn against the company they work for.”

Israeli attorney Nimrod Assif, who has represented alleged victims of binary options fraud and advocated for immediate government action against the suspected perpetrators, said the recovery industry has fraudulent elements, though he could not comment on specific companies. Assif recommended victims come to experienced lawyers like him, who know how to build a court case using admissible and legally obtained information, but said that what is most important are results.

“This recovery industry is a bit problematic,” he said. “First, this is legal work and people need to be licensed lawyers in order to represent victims in this country. Second, I know for a fact that there are fraudsters also in this industry.

“I will say if you put aside ethical issues, the No. 1 priority is to get recovery for victims. So if companies are able to do that, it’s good.”

Last month, the U.S.-based Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, the securities industry’s own watchdog group, issued a warning about what it called binary options follow-up schemes and “recovery scams.”

Read more: http://forward.com/news/breaking-news/369906/american-immigrants-win-back-millions-for-victims-of-massive-fraud-in-israe/