Human Rights First Calls on Financial Institutions to Maintain Block on Dan Gertler’s Assets and Transactions, Pending Global Magnitsky Sanctions License Review
WASHINGTON –Today Human Rights First joined Congolese and international human rights and anti-corruption organizations in an open letter urging U.S. financial institutions to continue implementing sanctions against Israeli national Dan Gertler until the U.S. Treasury Department reviews the unusual license granted to Gertler and his associates in the final days of the Trump administration. The license, which the Treasury Department issued on January 15, allows Gertler to circumvent Global Magnitsky sanctions imposed in 2017 for corrupt mining and oil deals in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
“The license issued to Gertler undermines one of the most effective anti-corruption sanctions issued under the Global Magnitsky program to date,” said Amanda Strayer, associate for Human Rights Accountability at Human Rights First. “Given the possibility of undue influence in the licensing process and the documented history of his corrupt behavior, we urge financial institutions to refrain from doing any business with Gertler under this license until a thorough investigation is completed.”
The open letter to financial institutions is available here.
To date, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has designated Gertler and 34 persons and entities in his network under the Global Magnitsky sanctions program, following years of advocacy efforts to expose Gertler’s alleged corruption. The scale of Gertler’s alleged corruption has had a significantly detrimental impact on the human rights and well-being of the Congolese people. Between 2010 and 2012 alone, Gertler was allegedly involved in corrupt deals with extractive companies that drained $1.36 billion from the DRC government, amounting to nearly half the country’s health budget.
While Gertler remains sanctioned, the license issued by the Trump administration unblocks property that had been frozen by the sanctions and allows him to conduct transactions with U.S. persons for one year. Human Rights First and members of both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate have raised concerns that this license was issued outside of normal protocol, following months of extensive lobbying on Gertler’s behalf by lawyers close to then-President Trump. Given these facts, until a thorough review of the decision to issue the license is completed, financial institutions doing business with Gertler and his network will continue to risk engaging in corrupt or illicit financial transactions.
Since 2017, Human Rights First has organized and trained a global coalition of human rights and anti-corruption NGOs that have worked together to bring credible information to the attention of the U.S. and other governments on potential sanctions designees under the Global Magnitsky Act and other U.S. sanctions programs.