Congo nears deal with Israeli billionaire to recover assets | Business

The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo has announced that it is close to reaching an agreement with Dan Gertler’s Fleurette Group to take over billions of dollars of its mining and oil assets in the country.

Companies owned by the Israeli billionaire, who faces US sanctions over alleged corruption in Congo, control mining and oil permits throughout the central African country as well as lucrative royalty streams for some of the biggest copper projects and cobalt in the world managed by Glencore Plc and Eurasian Resources Group Sarl. A Gertler spokesperson declined to comment. Gertler denied all corruption allegations and he was never charged.

A Congolese government commission is set to reach a memorandum of understanding with the Fleurette group to recover oil and mining assets valued at more than $2 billion “as well as a substantial part of royalties from Kamoto Copper Company”, according to the minutes of the council of ministers on Friday. interview read on national television by Augustin Kibassa, Minister of Posts and Telecommunications.

Kamoto Copper is run by Glencore, which declined to comment.

A consortium of Congolese and international non-governmental organizations known as Congo Is Not For Sale hailed the deal as a “first step” in recovering Gertler’s assets in an emailed statement on Saturday. He called on the government “to make the process and the results of the negotiations more transparent”.

Gertler came to Congo to sell diamonds in the late 1990s when the country was at war. He forged close ties with Joseph Kabila, who served as president from 2001 to 2019. His activities quickly expanded into copper, cobalt, oil, gold and other minerals, often partnering with mining giants like Glencore. But his relationship with Kabila has drawn the attention of anti-corruption groups, who have accused him of paying bribes and stealing money from one of the world’s poorest countries. He denies all the charges.

The United States sanctioned Gertler in December 2017 in part to force Kabila out of power after he postponed scheduled elections. The Treasury Department has expanded measures against Gertler’s companies and associates twice, including in December last year.

Since Felix Tshisekedi took over as Congo’s president in 2019, the government’s relationship with Gertler has cooled. Tshisekedi has made it a priority to take over two oil blocks held by Gertler’s companies along the border with Uganda that could be worth billions.

Friday’s announcement shows that the Tshisekedi government wants to claw back even more of Gertler’s empire.

The country’s justice minister is currently reviewing the draft deal with Fleurette in hopes of reaching a deal that “would allow the Congolese state to regain full possession of these mining and oil assets,” Kibassa said.

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