Press release | March 9, 2021

Global Witness welcomes the reversal of US sanctions reprieve granted to mining magnate Dan Gertler

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Global Witness welcomes the positive step taken by the Biden administration to revoke the special licence granted to Dan Gertler in the waning days of the Trump presidency, which allowed him to resume business activities with US entities for a year and unfroze his assets in the US. Suspending this licence effectively reimposes US sanctions on Gertler.

The US administration said the licence granted to Dan Gertler was “inconsistent with America’s strong foreign policy interests in combatting corruption around the world, specifically including U.S. efforts to counter corruption and promote stability in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).”

Margot Mollat, Campaigner at Global Witness, said:

“The decision to reverse Trump’s decision to ease sanctions against the controversial billionaire is a significant step in the right direction for anti-corruption efforts around the world.”

“This news has been welcomed by Congolese civil society activists and groups, who have strongly condemned the easing of sanctions against Gertler for weeks and continue to tirelessly fight for accountability. The reimposition of sanctions is an encouraging sign that the courageous actions of Navy Malela and Gradi Koko, two Congolese whistleblowers who first exposed apparent sanctions evasion by Dan Gertler, will not be in vain,” said Mollat.

“While this is a positive step, a lot remains to be done. We encourage the US administration to continue fighting corruption and to consider sanctioning new companies and entities that have been publicly affiliated to Dan Gertler. The US must also take measures to ensure that there are adequate checks and balances in place and that special licenses are allocated on a transparent and fair basis in order to avoid this kind of situation arising again.”

"The decision by the US government is a reminder that President Félix Tshisekedi can no longer remain silent in the face of the alleged role played by Gertler in diverting public revenues from DRC’s rich natural resource sector. Tshisekedi must break from the past and distance himself from Gertler, a close friend to former president Kabila. The DRC government must urgently investigate Gertler's mining deals with Congolese state-owned companies to ensure that the Congolese people benefit from the country’s resource wealth. ”

“The EU and the UK must also ensure that their sanctions regimes allow them to target corrupt actors by closing existing loopholes and taking strong action in the global fight against corruption.”

Dan Gertler has repeatedly denied any involvement in wrongdoing, including corruption, diverting public revenues and evasion of US sanctions.

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