A BuzzFeed News investigation, based on thousands of pages of documents and more than 100 interviews in the US, Congo, and Europe, provides a first-ever look inside Mer’s aggressive campaign to influence the Trump administration and serve Kabila’s interests. It shows how such efforts can shape foreign policy in ways unbeknownst to both the public and senior government officials, through meetings and phone calls that leave few witnesses and little trace of the private influences involved.
In this case, the most powerful nation in the world swept aside authoritarian abuses — even when many of its own top diplomats thought such a decision flew in the face of US interests.
Despite all the promises that Kabila’s proxies made in Washington that year, Congo’s election, ultimately held in December 2018, was neither free nor fair. Citing voting data that leaked after the election, international observers said that it was brazenly rigged in favor of a candidate with whom Kabila had struck a secret power-sharing deal. Kabila would officially step down, but he would still command Congo’s security forces, his allies would still hold top Cabinet positions, and his party would still wield a legislative majority.
Within days of the election, the leaked voting data sparked protests across Congo. Heads of state in Europe and Africa called for an international investigation. The US echoed the denunciation.
Mer’s efforts in Washington looked doomed.
But a month after the election, in January 2019, the Trump administration suddenly dropped its objections and instead praised “Kabila’s commitment to becoming the first president in DRC history to cede power peacefully through an electoral process.” The decision to reverse course came from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, BuzzFeed News has learned. But it shocked veteran diplomats and rank-and-file State Department officials who had crafted the initial policy. And it put an end to the international coalition that was forming to examine the election.
Let me refresh your memory, on November 7, 2019, in a follow up to an article I posted on November 6, 2019, I published an opinion piece entitled “Dan Gertler and the OFAC Sanctions – Someone Had to Have Been Negotiating with Glencore” wherein I corrected the record as to dates from the previously posted article and presented my theories. The relevant corrected dates of that article, however, only serve to substantiate my theory, that there were a series of well-timed announcements, one corresponding though seemingly unconnected to the other and all subtly buried in a haze of smoke and mirrors. Then came the pandemic and any modicum of an investigation into the activities of the relevant players fell to the wayside.
I maintain that there were lobbyists behind the scenes negotiating on Gertler’s behalf with respect to the Magnitsky Act Sanctions and corresponding payments from Glencore allegedly due to Gertler. Gertler’s proven connection to Kabila providing a backdrop. In 2019 I did not complicate matters, however, by adding in the Congo/Glencore connection because I had fully intended to fill in that piece at some future date. Suffice it to say that the sanctions were imposed upon Dan Gertler (and his related companies) by the United States for his mining activities and human rights abuses in the Congo. While both the US, for formality’s sake, and Gertler and his associates now deny the allegations of abuse that triggered the imposition of the sanctions, The Africa Report, Global Witness and Bloomberg to name a few, have made direct and undeniable connections between Gertler and those abuses. They have also directly connected Gertler to Kabila and Kabila to Gertler. While they have not necessarily tied Gertler to Kabila’s reelection, or rather re-positioning of power, the connection is largely undeniable; and we maintain the whole show was being negotiated by Guiliani and/or his associates and Mer.
Glencore has said it will cooperate with the investigation.
The company’s shares dropped 6% to 223.9 pence following the announcement, pushing it to the bottom of London’s blue-chip index.
Over the course of this year, Glencore’s shares have fallen more than 20%, pressured by broader concerns about safety and sustainability in Democratic Republic of Congo.
CEO Ivan Glasenberg told investors earlier this week he expected to step down next year once a new management team is in place. (Reporting by Yadarisa Shabong in Bengaluru; Alistair Smout, Julia Payne and Barbara Lewis in London; Editing by Rashmi Aich and Jane Merriman)
Dan Gertler and former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, April 28, 2005Tomer Appelbaum
DAN GERTLER, HIS MONEY, THE PEOPLE WITHIN HIS VORTEX, THE DRC, GLENCORE, MAGNITSKY AND BOMBARDIER – PART I
This is unequivocally our Opinion. It is based upon an analysis of current events and relevant FARA filings. We have posted some of the filings as images on the bottom of this page.
We believe that recent news about Dan Gertler and those lobbying on his behalf are a red herring, a distraction. They are really old news. We believe that the importance in creating smoke and mirrors is to provide a different narrative to Giuliani’s involvement in the Ukraine and his potential connection with Dan Gertler, whether directly or through intermediaries. We are working on that connection.
This is an opinion and should not be taken as anything more.
In 2017, a number of registrations were made which disclosed to the government that several companies were representing lobbying efforts for both the Democratic Republic of Congo and Dan Gertler. We feel that the DRC and Gertler are inextricably intertwined. He has a long and storied history with Kabila which in 2017 we wrote about extensively.
The Panama Papers contain more elicit information about Gertler than about almost any other single subject; and his business dealings are creative, if nothing else. Again, this is an opinion.
We are not particularly fond of an industry which underpays citizens to dig for diamonds, cobalt, copper, emeralds and other riches and then makes zillions of dollars on the labor of those citizens who work to barely survive. Meanwhile their employers (using that term loosely) travel on a fleet of Bombardier Planes, have lavish meals delivered to Kinshasa, consistent with the laws of Kashrut of course, the cost of which is more than many of the citizens of the DRC will see in two generations of lifetimes.
We firmly believe that a mineral wealthy country should have citizens who share in that wealth and are not enslaved by it. It is our opinion that the DRC’s citizens are the victims of the vast amounts of wealth of Gertler, Kabila and their networks of associates. We believe it can only be viewed as a Shanda. There but for the Grace of G-d go I…
In 2018 Alan Dershowitz, Gertler’s attorney (and therefore privileged confidant), Louis Freeh, also an attorney and a former FBI director between 1993 and 2001, and Gary Apfel, also an attorney, (the same brilliant attorney who notably assisted in the defense of Shalom Rubashkin and took on the issues of Criminal Justice Reform) were being paid to lobby on behalf of Dan Gertler. This is not new news. This is also not meant to create the illusion that somehow they are responsible for what is happening in the DRC. We voice no such opinion. They are lobbyists and attorneys and are getting paid to do a job.
The relevant filings were made under FARA in 2018.
What is notable is that at least one document was signed in 2019 and was only now reported on at any great lengths in the CNBC News report (posted below). It is our position, an opinion, that this is all a great distraction. It is nothing new and should not be viewed as such.
It should be clearly understood that Dan Gertler was sanctioned under the Magnitsky Act. This was reported by the US Department of the Treasury in a Press Release on June 15, 2018. The full text of that press release, which we are accepting as true and genuine by virtue of its source, is listed on the next page of this report.
Through crafty maneuvering, and we believe with the help of a current confidant of President Trump, on the same day he was sanctioned, Glncore which allegedly owed Gertler millions, found a workaround to be able to pay Gertler his money. That workaround was to pay him in Euros through overseas bank accounts and companies.
It is our opinion, that the Magnitsky Act sanctions are worthless if a company can “workaround” them by utilizing foreign currency and sources of currency exchanges. Ultimately he is getting paid hundreds of millions of dollars whether he accepts them in “Greenbacks” or in some other currency. The Sanctions should apply to any currency, not just US Dollars, or there really is little point to them at all.
We also find the timing of the announcement of the sanctions and the settlement with Glencore (the company liable to him for back pay) to be somewhat questionable, if not outright insulting to anyone who believes that this is actually a sanction.
We believe that the arrangement with Glencore was back-channeled by another paid consultant with either direct or indirect connections to Gertler. It is that last piece of this opinion that we are working on.
Diamond and mining tycoon Dan Gertler has been under U.S. sanctions since 2017 for corruption, human rights abuses in the Democratic Republic of Congo
Alan Dershowitz, an ally of U.S. President Donald Trump, and former FBI director Louis Freeh have officially registered with the U.S. government as lobbyists for Dan Gertler, an Israeli billionaire known for shady deals and corruption accusations.
According to CNBC, Dershowitz, who has never been registered as a lobbyist before, said he was only acting as Gertler’s lawyer.
The lobbying registration, despite only being released now, records the effective start date as October 17, 2018. Dershowitz was advising Gertler as early as last year, according to a New York Times report.
The decision to hire lobbyists is not surprising in itself. “He’s an international businessman and it’s very difficult to do business internationally” when under sanctions, Peter Jones, a campaign leader at international NGO Global Witness, told Al-Monitor.
The place of both Dershowitz and Freeh in Washington and their relationship to the current administration are significant, however.
Louis Freeh, who is also an attorney, was FBI director between 1993 and 2001. He registered to act as a lobbyist for the first time in March this year, but is known to have ties with other controversial figures. This includes former New York mayor and Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, whom Freeh hired to pressure the Romanian president, according to a report in The Independent, in connection with Hunter Biden.
The original sanctions against Gertler said he “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,” mainly through his personal relationship with former President Joseph Kabila.
High-profile defense attorney Alan Dershowitz and Louis Freeh, a former FBI director, have registered to lobby for an Israeli billionaire investor who’s been sanctioned by the U.S. government.
Dan Gertler, who the Treasury Department said amassed his fortune through “corrupt deals” in the Democratic Republic of Congo, hired Freeh Sporkin & Sullivan LLP to lobby Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, according to a registration statement it filed with Congress today. The filing was first reported by CNBC.
The Trump administration included Gertler in a crackdown it announced in December 2017 on human rights abusers and corrupt actors around the world. OFAC has also sanctioned 34 individuals and entities it says are tied to him, freezing their assets and shutting them out of the U.S. financial system.
Treasury said Gertler used his close friendship with Joseph Kabila, then president of the DRC, to act as a middleman for the sale of mining assets, requiring multinational countries to go through him to do business with the Congolese government. It estimated that between 2010 and 2012, the DRC lost $1.4 billion in revenues from the sale of under-priced assets to offshore companies linked to Gertler.
Dershowitz said he doesn’t agree with the government’s charges, but would present a defense in the proper venue. “Gertler is a wonderful, charitable man who’s done a great deal of good for the world,” he added.
The lobbying registration was required because his attorneys will be making legal arguments before a federal agency rather than a court, Dershowitz said. “You have to register,” he said, adding that he will be acting as a legal consultant. “I’m not a lobbyist.“
Freeh’s office declined to comment. A call made after business hours to Gertler’s office in Israel was not immediately returned.
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.