25 international and Congolese civil society groups write public letter to top US officials
Today, 25 Congolese and international civil society organisations, including RAID, called on the US government not to provide sanctions relief to businessman Dan Gertler for his activities in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The US Treasury Department sanctioned Gertler and his companies for high-level corruption related to the DRC in December 2017. According to the Treasury’s press release, “the DRC reportedly lost over $1.36 billion” as a result of his “opaque and corrupt mining and oil deals.” (Gertler has consistently denied any wrongdoing.)
In a public letter to the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, and the Treasury Secretary, Janet Yellen, the groups expressed their growing concern about potential sanctions relief for Gertler, following the conclusion of a settlement agreement between the DRC government and Gertler’s company Ventora in February last year. The agreement details the return of some of Gertler’s assets back to the DRC and commits the Congolese government to assist Gertler in his efforts to “cancel the US sanctions” against him.
The settlement—which was negotiated in secret and only partially published after pressure from the International Monetary Fund and rights organisations—also shields Gertler from any prosecution for his part in alleged bribery. It further makes provision for a net payment of €189 million to Gertler (with no compensation to the DRC government for past losses), and permits Gertler to continue collecting an estimated $200,000 a day in royalties from three lucrative mining projects for at least another decade.
In their letter today, the civil society groups say they believe the statutory grounds for lifting sanctions has not been fulfilled, and that doing so would harm US interests in fighting corruption, promoting prosperity in the DRC, and keeping sanctions tools like the Global Magnitsky program credible and effective.
According to the groups:
“If sanctions relief is granted on the basis of the lopsided Settlement, it would set a precedent of rewarding actors who have not shown a significant change in behavior while continuing to harm the people that the sanctions were intended to help.
Any agreement that would allow Mr Gertler to continue to profit from the corrupt activity for which he was sanctioned in the first place would undermine the credibility and integrity of the Global Magnitsky sanctions program and US sanctions efforts more generally. It also further exposes US companies and the US financial system to the risk of foreign corruption.”
Read the full letter to the US Secretary of State here.
Pour la version française de la lettre, cliquez ici.