The 12 companies, as well as an associate of the mining tycoon, had been singled out by PPLAAF and Global Witness in 2020 in their report “Undermining Sanctions”
(Paris, December 6, 2021) – The U.S. Treasury’s decision to sanction 12 companies and businessman Alain Mukonda sends a very strong signal to those who try to manipulate the international financial system, the Platform to Protect Whistleblowers in Africa (PPLAAF) said today.
“These new sanctions confirm the conclusions of Congolese and international civil society on the active role played in recent years by Dan Gertler’s network in the DRC”, said Gabriel Bourdon-Fattal of PPLAAF. “It is high time that other countries, such as the DRC, thoroughly investigate all assets linked to this”.
The decision by U.S. authorities follows the publication on July 2, 2020, of a report by PPLAAF and Global Witness entitled “Undermining Sanctions” based on bank documents provided by two Congolese whistleblowers, Navy Malela and Gradi Koko.
This report, and subsequent publications by several international media outlets, exposed evidence suggesting that mining tycoon Dan Gertler had used what appeared to be a money laundering network to bypass US sanctions. This network had enabled the flow of millions of dollars of funds to Europe and Israel and the acquisition of new mining assets in the DRC. Some of these companies, as well as Alain Mukonda, played a key role in this network.
OFAC stated that “With today’s action, the number of sanctioned entities and individuals in Gertler’s network (…) totals 46. Treasury is committed to ensuring that Gertler is not able to corruptly profit from continued access and influence in the DRC and globally.”
On February 26, 2021, the two Congolese whistleblowers revealed that they were the source of the investigations that led to the publication of the report “Undermining Sanctions” and investigative articles that appeared in July 2020 in Le Monde, Bloomberg and Haaretz. Since then, journalists have continued to investigate the documents submitted by the two whistleblowers. Investigations have been published in RFI, RTS, Bloomberg, Africa Confidential, Haaretz and Mail & Guardian.
A wave of violent reprisals followed these revelations. The two former bankers, Malela and Koko, who now live in exile, were sentenced to death in a fraudulent trial: they had not been informed of the proceedings and had not been able to defend themselves.
“It is unbelievable that whistleblowers like us are prosecuted and convicted for protecting the public interest, while US authorities sanction companies based on our disclosures,” said Navy Malela.
In December 2017, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) had sanctioned Dan Gertler for his “hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of opaque and corrupt mining and oil deals in the DRC”. OFAC also found that Gertler “has used his close friendship with former DRC President Joseph Kabila to act as a middleman for mining asset sales in the DRC, requiring some multinational companies to go through Gertler to do business with the Congolese state”.
The sanctioned companies, all Congolese, are Ashdale Settlement, Gemini SASU, Kaltona Limited, Kintaleg Limited, Multree Limited, Opera, Palatina SARLU, Rosehill DRC SASU, Ventora Global Services, Ventora Mining SASU, Woodford Entreprises Limited SASU, Woodhaven DRC SASU.
Alain Mukonda is a Congolese businessman and associate of Dan Gertler. OFAC said: “Following Gertler’s identification in the Annex in 2017, Mukonda opened bank accounts and made payments into proxy bank accounts for Gertler and those linked to Deboutte”. OFAC’s findings are consistent with those of the “Undermining Sanctions” report, particularly when the U.S. agency writes about Mr. Mukonda: “He made 16 cash deposits totaling between 11 and 13.5 million dollars into accounts of companies he incorporated that ultimately belong to Gertler’s family. He also re-domiciled several of Gertler’s companies from Gibraltar and the British Virgin Islands to the DRC.”
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