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.