Israeli billionaire denies DR Congo laundering claims

Israeli billionaire mining investor Dan Gertler denied on Thursday that he had tried to evade US sanctions in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

An investigation by the Platform to Protect Whistleblowers in Africa (PPLAAF) and campaign group Global Witness said he had used a global money laundering network to get around US sanctions and extract mineral wealth from DR Congo.

The report by the two rights organisations published on Thursday cited evidence indicating that Gertler had moved millions of dollars through Afriland First Bank’s branch in DR Congo in order to dodge the sanctions.

“Gertler appears to have used a money laundering network stretching from Democratic Republic of Congo to Europe and Israel to evade US sanctions against him, funnel millions of dollars abroad, and acquire new mining assets in DR Congo,” the report said.

Its said its findings were “based on documents provided by whistleblowers despite great risks to their personal safety”.

The report pointed to leaked bank documents allegedly showing millions of dollars moving in and out of Afriland accounts opened by people with ties to Gertler, Reuters news agency reported.

Gertler denied the claims: “I have no relationship whatsoever with numerous individuals supposedly identified in this story and the cash deposits referred to are fictitious or have nothing to do with me, or anyone on my behalf,” he said.

The United States in 2017 froze all the assets and accounts of Gertler, a close ally of former DR Congo president Joseph Kabila — accusing the billionaire of profiting from massive resource corruption in Africa.

According to the US Treasury Department , DR Congo lost more than $1.36bn (£1bn) between 2010 and 2012 in state revenues from underpriced mining assets sold to offshore companies tied to the billionaire.

more recommended stories