'Gertler and Associates Would Come to the Bank, and a Teller Would Take a Sack and a Bill Counter Up to Management'

Gradi Koko and Navy Malela, auditors at a Democratic Republic of Congo bank, had to flee to Europe after exposing cash deposits worth millions by associates of Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler, who was at the time subject to international sanctions. Gertler's lawyer: Accusations are a 'deliberate weave of empty allegations'

Koko (left) and Malela.
Koko (left) and Malela. “My only regret,” says the former, is “that I didn’t take more documents with me from the bank.” Credit: Liran Hutmacher

In March 2018, Gradi Koko, his pregnant wife and their infant daughter, who was less than a year old, landed at the airport in a European capital. With them were suitcases holding the clothes they had managed to pack. Everything else had been left behind in the Democratic Republic of Congo, their homeland, which they will not be seeing again anytime soon. The family took a taxi to the home of acquaintances who had agreed to host them for a short period. In the months that followed, the family moved between several temporary lodgings. In the DRC, Koko’s family sold his car and sent him the proceeds to assist him. The money helped for a time, but it ran out. In the meantime, Koko and his wife were unemployed. They ate mostly in soup kitchens.