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France : Afriland First Bank files criminal complaint against Global Witness & PPLAAF for investigative report exposing alleged money laundering in the Democratic Republic of Congo, with company comments

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7 July 2020

Billionaire Gertler threatens NGOs over Congo investigation into evading US sanctions

Author: RFI

Two non-governmental organisations that ran an investigation into Israeli businessman Dan Gertler say they have been targeted by a “vexatious” lawsuit in France. The joint investigation claimed mining magnate Gertler appeared to avoid US sanctions for “corrupt mining and oil deals” in the Democratic Republic of Congo by using a suspected money laundering network...

Dan Gertler, who is close to former Congolese president Joseph Kabila, was accused by the two NGOs of having created a number of shell companies so that he could continue to acquire Congolese mining permits at a low price. 

The report points the finger at the Congolese subsidiary of Afriland bank, set up in 2006, for accepting tens of millions of US dollars in cash through accounts in the names of people close to Gertler...

Eric Moutet, a lawyer acting for Gertler as well as Afriland bank, told RFI that the documents in question used in the investigation are fraudulent. 

“A complaint has been filed in Paris, France against Global Witness and PPLAAF about the manner in which the evidence was gathered in this case,” Moutet told RFI’s Sonia Rolley, saying documents used in the investigation were stolen. 

“We have quite a bit of evidence to suggest that the stolen files have been tampered with,” said Moutet. “So an investigation will be opened - it is absolutely necessary to shed light on the way in which these NGOs work." 

Billionaire businessman Gertler was hit by US sanctions in December 2017, accused by the US Treasury of having “amassed his fortune through hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of opaque and corrupt mining and oil deals in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).” ...

Gertler began creating a holding company and dozens of other companies in October 2017, a few weeks before the official announcement of US sanctions, the report said...

PLAAFF and Global Witness, supported by a number of investigative journalists, discovered a network of companies, many based in countries considered as tax havens or secrecy jurisdictions, others domiciled in Hong Kong, Switzerland and the Czech Republic. 

Lots of transactions passed through the Congolese subsidiary of Afriland bank, effectively laundering millions of dollars in cash, according to the investigation. 

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7 July 2020

Global Witness and PPLAAF condemn vexatious criminal complaint targeted at our joint investigation on Dan Gertler, 'undermining sanctions

Author: Global Witness & PPLAAF

Global Witness and the Platform to Protect Whistleblowers in Africa (PPLAAF) today condemn a criminal complaint that has been filed in France by Afriland First Bank in connection with our joint investigation, Undermining Sanctions, which was released yesterday. The complaint follows a threat made by sanctioned businessman Mr Dan Gertler via his London lawyers Carter-Ruck on 11 June 2020, which expressly raised the possibility of lodging a similar criminal complaint. 

“We urge the public to read our investigation, Undermining Sanctions, to understand the context of Dan Gertler's threat and Afriland First Bank's criminal complaint. For two of the principal subjects of our report to threaten or file criminal complaints against PPLAAF and Global Witness for our investigation into possible sanctions evasion is beyond parody,” said Henri Thulliez, director of PPLAAF...

Undermining Sanctions is the result of an extensive and thorough joint investigation carried out by Global Witness and PPLAAF, including rigorous source-checking and the highest standards of public interest journalism. The investigation involved separate reporting by Bloomberg, Le Monde, Haaretz and other respected news outlets.

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Author: Radio Okapi (RDC)

"RDC: Afriland First Bank accuse Global Witness et Plaaff de corruption" 2 juillet 2020

Citée dans le rapport de Global Witness et Plaaff sur Dan Ketler et le pillage des ressources naturelles en RDC, Afriland Fisrt Bank porte plainte à Paris contre ces ONG. Elle les accuse de pratiques de corruption dans leur enquête. Elle parle des documents bancaires volés en son sein et falsifiés afin d’incriminer son client Dan Gertler. Actes juges déloyales et répréhensibles selon la plainte déposée au tribunal judiciaire de Paris par les avocats de Afriland Bank.

Afriland first Bank parle de neuf infractions commises par ces organisations internationales et leurs collaborateurs dans leur enquête. Parmi elles, figurent la violation du secret bancaire, la dénonciation calomnieuse, l’abus de confiance, le faux et usage de faux, la corruption et le vol.

Cette banque, basée à Kinshasa, affirme dans sa plainte que Global Witnes et son collaborateur PPLAAF ont utilisé deux de ses anciens employés pour voler des fichiers en échange d’avantages. Elle démontre également comment la falsification des documents bancaires par ces deux employés a été utilisée par les deux ONG internationales pour produire de fausses preuves dans leur enquête.

Toujours dans leur plainte, les avocats de la banque font allusion à une démarche d’une enquêtrice séniore de Global Witness. Celle-ci proposait de verser de l’argent aux agents de l’administration locale, afin d’obtenir des documents administratifs et commerciaux en RDC concernant un client de la banque.


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2 July 2020

Mining magnate Gertler denies skirting U.S. sanctions in Congo

Author: Aaron Ross & Hereward Holland, Reuters

Israeli billionaire mining investor Dan Gertler denied on Thursday that he had tried to evade U.S. sanctions after watchdogs said he appeared to have funnelled millions of dollars through a bank in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Gertler’s statement to Reuters followed a report published on Thursday by the Platform to Protect Whistleblowers in Africa (PPLAAF) and campaign group Global Witness citing evidence indicating that Gertler had moved the money through Afriland First Bank’s branch in Congo in order to dodge sanctions. 

Their report pointed to leaked bank documents allegedly showing millions of dollars moving in and out of Afriland accounts opened by people with ties to Gertler after he was first sanctioned in 2017...

Reuters did not see the evidence and was not able to independently confirm it.  

Gertler said the allegations were false. 

“I have no relationship whatsoever with numerous individuals supposedly identified in this story and the cash deposits referred to are fictitious or have nothing to do with me, or anyone on my behalf,” Gertler said in the statement...

Afriland filed a criminal complaint with prosecutors in Paris on Wednesday, accusing PPLAAF and Global Witness of, among other things, bribing Congolese officials and blackmailing sources during their investigation...

PPLAAF and Global Witness said the accusations “constitute unjustified attempts to intimidate us into not publishing these important allegations”. 

The U.S. Treasury sanctioned Gertler and more than 30 of his businesses in December 2017 and June 2018, accusing him of using his friendship with former Congo President Joseph Kabila to secure sweetheart mining deals worth more than a billion dollars. Gertler denied any wrongdoing.


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