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US Treasury launches new sanctions; mining/oil mogul Dan Gertler designated

New York — The Trump administration launched Thursday new sanctions targeting thoseit described in a statement as "human rights abusers and corrupt actors aroundthe world."

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Included on the list is Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler, recently asenior adviser to the Fleurette Group, which sold its 31% stake in theDemocratic Republic of the Congo's Mutanda copper mine to Glencore inmid-February.

The president imposed sanctions on 13 individuals and the TreasuryDepartment's Office of Foreign Assets Control imposed sanctions on anadditional 39 individuals and entities. The sanctions mean that all assetswithin US jurisdiction of the individuals and entities included, or designatedby OFAC, are blocked and US persons are generally prohibited from engaging intransactions with them.

"Today, the United States is taking a strong stand against human rightsabuse and corruption globally by shutting these bad actors out of the USfinancial system," Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin said in astatement. "Treasury is freezing their assets and publicly denouncing theegregious acts they've committed, sending a message that there is a steepprice to pay for their misdeeds."

Treasury's statement described Gertler as "an international businessman and billionaire who has 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."

Treasury alleges that Gertler "used his close friendship with DRCPresident Joseph Kabila to act as a middleman for mining asset sales in theDRC, requiring some multinational companies to go through Gertler to dobusiness with the Congolese state." As a result, between 2010 and 2012, theDRC reportedly lost more than $1.36 billion in revenue from the underpricingof mining assets that were sold to offshore companies linked to Gertler,according to Treasury.

Until its exit earlier this year, Gertler's Fleurette Group had partneredwith Glencore on Mutanda and Kansuki, two adjacent copper and cobalt projectsin DRC's Katanga province. Mutanda and Kansuki merged in July 2013 to createMutanda Mining, a major asset along the African Copperbelt in the DRC.

Glencore paid $960 million in February to buy the mines, of which Gertlerreceived an estimated $534 million, thereby allowing Glencore to disassociatefrom him. Gertler has steadfastly denied any wrongdoing.

At the time of the sale, Gertler said in a statement: "We are extremelyproud of what we have achieved at Mutanda. Together with Glencore, Fleurettehas enabled the mine to deliver on its full potential and it has become one ofthe largest taxpayers in the DRC. We have shown we can make massive investmentdecisions in challenging, complex operating environments, and expand greatassets which in turn provide huge benefits to the people of the DRC."

According to Forbes magazine executive profiles, Gertler soon plans todrill for oil in the DRC's Lake Albert, where tests have shown as many as 3billion barrels. Treasury said that Gertler in 2013 sold to the DRC governmentfor $150 million the rights to an oil block that Gertler purchased from the government for just $500,000, "a loss of $149.5 million in potential revenue."

In the related action, OFAC designated Pieter Albert Deboutte, FleuretteProperties Ltd., Fleurette Holdings Netherlands B.V., Gertler FamilyFoundation, Oil of DR Congo SPRL, Jarvis Congo SARL, International DiamondIndustries, D.G.D. Investments Ltd., D.G.I. Israel Ltd., Proglan Capital Ltd.,Emaxon Finance International Inc., Africa Horizons Investment Ltd.,Caprikat Ltd., Foxwhelp Ltd., Caprikat and Foxwhelp SARL, LoraEnterprises Ltd., Zuppa Holdings Limited, Orama Properties Ltd., DGI MiningLtd. and Rozaro Development Ltd.

--Joe Innace,

--Edited by Jason Lindquist,