Biden administration revokes license
On March 8, the U.S. State Department along with the Treasury Department revoked Dan Gertler’s license. Gertler is an Israeli mining businessman that is allegedly involved in public corruption in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The license revocation is a move to reverse a decision made in the final days of former-President Trump.
This decision came amid pushback from human rights activists in the U.S. and DRC and congressional lawmakers. The Biden Administration revoked his license to reaffirm its stance on anti-corruption efforts. In a press statement by the State Department, they noted that granting Gertler a license is “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.”
Gertler’s corrupt mining deals
According to the Treasury Department, Gertler made his fortune through obscure and corrupt mining deals. He had ties to former Congolese president, Joseph Kabila, which enabled him to organize these mining oil deals. Through his dealings with Kabila, Gertler was made the middleman for mining sales in Congo thereby requiring companies to go through Gertler to do business. This deal resulted in a loss of $1.36 billion in revenue from mineral sales in the DRC. For more than two decades, Gertler exported diamonds, gold, oil, cobalt, and other minerals.
The U.S. sanctioned Gertler in late 2017 under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, a law that allows the U.S. to punish business executives or government officials that violate international human rights.
Trump’s administration secretly revokes license
In 2019, he hired lobbyists with ties to Trump, including Alan Dershowitz that made it easier for him to retrieve his license. On January 15, 2021, five days from the end of the Trump Presidency, the Department of Treasury granted him a one-year license that would unfreeze money in U.S. banks and authorized him to conduct business through the international banking system. The license revocation strips Gertler of those conditions.
According to New York Times reporting, the then-Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin directed officials in the Office of Foreign Asset Control to issue his license, even though some top State Department officials were unaware of this decision would have likely opposed it.
According to a New York Times article, the Treasury Department issued the license in exchange for his assistance in a U.S. national security interest, however, the nature of his aid to the U.S. was not disclosed.