Félix Tshisekedi, the president of the DRC, knows that those around him involved in the agreements signed with the Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler could soon be sanctioned by the United States.
Since 2017, he has been one of the personalities placed under sanctions by the United States. , Dan Gertler built his empire in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) thanks to his proximity to Joseph Kabila. But since the arrival of Félix Tshisekedi in 2019, he has been dealing with the latter's entourage. It must be said that until December 2020, Kabila was still omnipresent, thanks to his alliance with his successor. Gertler was therefore able to make a smooth transition.
Especially since, at the time, Tshisekedi's entourage began to appreciate the Israeli businessman. It must be said that Gertler had become very powerful in the DRC under Kabila. The king of diamonds, copper or cobalt and even oil was undoubtedly the most important businessman in the country. But in 2017, the US Treasury sanctioned the businessman for "corrupt mining and oil operations" in the DRC.
Compensation for Dan Gertler
When the alliance with Kabila ended, the Tshisekedi administration had a hard time managing its relations with Gertler. Well-established, the businessman found himself at the heart of several scandals denounced by local NGOs. In June 2021, the Ministry of Hydrocarbons of the Democratic Republic of Congo finally declared that oil permits granted to Israeli businessman Dan Gretler had expired. Six months later, the Congolese presidency announced the signing of an agreement with the Israeli billionaire for the restitution to the Congolese State of its precious mining assets, estimated at 2 billion dollars.
Since then, reactions to the government's attitude have been blowing hot and cold. Public opinion criticizes the presidential administration for having played the game of the Israeli businessman: by ceding its Congolese assets against a judicial reconciliation, Gertler did, some say, a little too well, receiving 131 million euros from the Congolese state.
It now remains to be seen who was able to protect Gertler... Recently, the FBI has been investigating Tshisekedi's entourage. According AfricaIntelligence, the American authorities launched, at the beginning of the summer, an investigation “on possible circumvention of the sanctions put in place against the mining magnate Dan Gertler in the DRC”.
Tshisekedi wants to know a little more
Something to worry the Congolese president. We remember that, last April, the Minister of Hydrocarbons Didier Budimbu had been interviewed for 24 hours within the National Intelligence Agency. His relatives then denounced Dan Gertler's revenge. This would prove that Gertler still has powerful networks in the DRC.
And this is far from being a mere guess. Because Tshisekedi knows that part of his entourage has been loyal to Gertler and risks American sanctions. Less than a week ago, when the head of American diplomacy Antony Blinken was to go to Kinshasa, Dan Gertler also traveled to the Congolese capital to meet Félix Tshisekedi there, still according to AfricaIntelligence.
To better prepare, the Congolese president therefore wanted to play his cards on the table with the Israeli billionaire. It now remains to be seen whether Gertler gave Tshisekedi any names of the people involved in the deal he struck. Because in the coming months, Washington risks imposing a series of sanctions that could falter the Tshisekedi administration...