Bloomberg Markets Magazine has just released a stunning look at the 38-year-old Israeli billionaire, Dan Gertler, whose mining deals in the DR Congo, the poorest country in the world, are strongly suspected of corruption. The Bloomberg article is thoroughly documented, and a brave Congolese activist summarized the case against Gertler:
“Dan Gertler is essentially looting Congo at the expense of its people,” says Jean Pierre Muteba, the head of a group of nongovernmental organizations that monitor the mining sector in Katanga province, where most of Congo’s copper is located.
“He has political connections, so state companies sell him mines for low prices and he sells them on for huge profits. That’s how he’s become a billionaire.”
The International Monetary Fund is so disturbed at the mega-corruption that it has suspended loans to the DR Congo. Some 70 percent of the country’s 73 million people are malnourished, and more than 5 million have died since 1998 as a consequence of war.
The Bloomberg article reports that Gertler flies to Tel Aviv every week to spend the Sabbath with his family, who live there in an ultra-orthodox suburb. When I was in Congo earlier this year, the word on the street was that Gertler had been something of a hell-raiser in his youth, but he had since found religion. So far, his faith does not seem to make room for the Congolese people from whom he is stealing. The article estimates his worth at $2.5 billion — which would be more than one-third of the entire Congolese government budget last year.
An American suspected of mega-corruption would become the target of investigation at both the federal and state levels. Will Israel’s government start to look into this man’s finances?