Dan Gertler is once again under formal financial sanctions imposed by the U.S. government. The Biden Administration has reversed a decision made at the last minute by President Trump to ease the sanctions enacted against the Israeli billionaire businessman. They were first imposed for alleged corrupt business dealings in the Republic of Congo.
The sanctions, which were originally implemented during Donald Trump’s Presidency, came as a result of what the U.S. Treasury Department said were deals which cheated the people of Congo out of $1.3 billion in mining revenues. He was also accused of being a party to human rights abuses in the country.
Dan Gertler was one of 13 people who were hit with sanctions which were imposed on December 21, 2017. The Treasury Department stated that these people were a party in some way to serious human rights abuse and corruption around the world.
Then Secretary of the Treasury Steven T. Mnuchin stated at the time, “Today, the United States is taking a strong stand against human rights abuse and corruption globally by shutting these bad actors out of the U.S. financial system. Treasury is freezing their assets and publicly denouncing the egregious acts they’ve committed, sending a message that there is a steep price to pay for their misdeeds.”
But President Trump eased the restrictions on Mt. Gertler in an order signed on January 15, just five days before leaving office. The move granted Gertler a one year license which gave him access to funds he deposited in American banks which had been frozen by the sanctions.
The move was highly criticized at the time. It reportedly resulted after people close to Trump like Alan Dershowitz lobbied on behalf of Mr. Gertler.
The State Department issued a statement explaining the decision to end Gertler’s special license. “The license previously granted to Mr. Gertler 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 (DRC),” it said.
“As the original designation of Mr. Gertler under the Global Magnitsky sanctions program in 2017 and subsequent designations in 2018 made clear, Mr. Gertler engaged in extensive public corruption. Under our Privileged Partnership for Peace and Prosperity, the United States stands firmly with our partners in the DRC to counter malign behavior that undermines the country’s institutions and economic opportunities.”
Allan Dershowitz, of course, criticized the move. The New York Times quoted the media personality as saying, “This decision was done unilaterally without an opportunity for Mr. Gertler to present evidence that he has been complying with all the requirements and conducting himself properly. We are now in the process of considering all of our options.”
It is not clear what those options may be. Mr. Dershowitz also failed to acknowledge the questions which surrounded President Trump’s initial decision in which he was himself personally involved.