Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler has sent representatives to negotiate with U.S. law enforcement authorities over the past few months, in a bid to come to a plea agreement and put an end to the international arbitration procedure against him, TheMarker has learned. The proposal submitted by Gertler includes a prison sentence to be served in Israel.
Gertler is suspected of bribing the former president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Joseph Kabila, and some other senior Congolese officials, in exchange for rights to mine resources in the country, according to investigations conducted by authorities in the United States, the United Kingdom and Switzerland.
Gertler’s representatives proposed he would serve a relatively short prison sentence of up to two years in an Israeli prison in exchange for closing all of his cases several sources with knowledge of the proceedings told TheMarker. Some Israeli officials were also informed of the proposal.
It is not yet known which offenses Gertler agreed to admit to, as part of the proposed plea agreement, and what information Gertler offered to provide – if any – about those who allegedly received the bribes. It is also unknown at this point whether the American Department of Justice has accepted or rejected his offer.
Gertler, who for the past two decades has been known as a rather central figure in the mining sector in the Democratic Republic of Congo, held the rights to mine cobalt, gold, diamonds and oil in the Congo for years. Some of his businesses were run in partnership with international commodity trading companies, such as Glencore.
Starting at the end of 2017, the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control imposed sanctions on Gertler and his companies due to corruption allegations over his acquisition of mining rights in the Congo, which he secured supposedly by exploiting his connections with Kabila. Criminal investigations were conducted against him at the same time in recent years.
A legal assistance request submitted by the British Serious Fraud Office to Swiss authorities in 2019 shows that the scope of the alleged bribes Gertler is suspected of paying in the United Kingdom case amounts to as much as $360 million, and in cash, as recently revealed by TheMarker.
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In light of the sanctions, Gertler signed a deal last week with the Congolese government, agreeing to return a substantial part of his mining rights and contractual rights he holds for receiving royalties in the country, without any compensation from the government. The Congolese government will end the international arbitration it was conducting against him in return.
While a statement issued by the government said the value of the rights Gertler would return to the Congo was estimated at $2 billion, the full details of the agreement remain confidential.
The agreement with the government of the Congo is not expected to have an effect on the sanctions against Gertler or the criminal allegations against him which are still under investigation, as far as is known.
Gertler’s lawyer, Eitan Maoz, said he knew nothing about any such proposal on Gertler’s behalf or on the part of his representatives, “and if the report is true then it was not done with my client's knowledge or consent. To remove any doubt, I would like to make it clear that no negotiations are being conducted on Gertler’s behalf with any law enforcement authority.”