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US blacklists Congolese national tied to sanctioned Israeli mining tycoon

Treasury Department says Alain Mukonda and 12 entities linked to him provided financial support to Dan Gertler, who’s accused of inking corrupt mining deals with ex-Congo president

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

Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler (Screen capture YouTube)
Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler (Screen capture YouTube)

The US Treasury Department on Monday sanctioned a Congolese national alleged to have provided financial support to Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler, who is already facing US sanctions due to what Washington says are fraudulent mining deals he reached with the former president of Congo.

The Treasury Department blacklisted Alain Mukonda along with 12 entities linked to him in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Gibraltar, “pursuant to Executive Order 13818, which builds upon and implements the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act and targets perpetrators of serious human rights abuse and corruption around the world,” the State Department said in its own statement on the matter.

The Treasury accused Mukonda of providing a “financial lifeline for Gertler,” opening bank accounts and making payments into proxy bank accounts for him.

In March, the Biden administration reimposed sanctions on Gertler after he won an unusual reprieve in the final days of the Trump presidency.

The US Department of the Treasury, in consultation with the Department of State, revoked the previous administration’s move.

“The license previously granted to Mr. Gertler is inconsistent with America’s strong foreign policy interests in combatting corruption around the world, specifically including US efforts to counter corruption and promote stability in the Democratic Republic of the Congo,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in March.

The US State Department hit Gertler with sanctions in December 2017 under the Global Magnitsky sanctions act 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.

While Gertler and his firms remained on the sanctions list, the Trump-granted license allowed their transactions to go ahead and unfroze their assets at a list of named banks and financial institutions.

The International Monetary Fund last year said the DRC should publish all mining contracts in the name of transparency in exchange for further aid.

Gertler’s grandfather cofounded the Israel Diamond Exchange and was its longtime president.

Gertler, founder and president of Dan Gertler International, has been active in Congo since 1997, when he started his activities seeking rough diamonds. He has since invested in a variety of fields, including in gold, cobalt, copper and agriculture. Forbes has rated his worth at $1.22 billion, saying he built his fortunes through mining ventures in various African states.

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