Democrats call for reinstating sanctions against Israeli billionaire Gertler

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US correspondent based in New York

The chairman of the US House Foreign Affairs Committee along with two other Democratic members are calling on the Biden administration to reinstate sanctions against an Israeli business billionaire accused of corruption in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The State Department hit Dan Gertler with sanctions in December 2017 for “opaque and corrupt mining deals” struck with help from his friend, then Congolese President Joseph Kabila. Washington claims Gertler deprived the DRC of $1.4 billion in tax revenues over the past decade.

Dan Gertler sits in his office in Ramat Gan on September 18, 2000. (AP/Mati Stein)

Former US president Donald Trump substantially eased sanctions on the billionaire during his final days in office.

In a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, Chairman Gregory Meeks, Rep. Karen Bass and Rep. James Himes express concern over the Trump administration’s decision to lift sanctions and issue a license to Gertler without justification.

“Lifting the sanctions against Mr. Gertler upends US policy toward the DRC and threatens the integrity of US sanctions programs more broadly. The Treasury Department’s sudden reversal of its own careful 2017 decision is not only arbitrary and capricious, but as far as we can tell was done without even a scintilla of policy or legal justification. Given these stark facts, we strongly encourage you to revoke this license as soon as possible,” write the lawmakers.

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