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Israeli PM Played Role in Easing Sanctions on Mining Mogul, Press Alleges

Israeli PM Played Role in Easing Sanctions on Mining Mogul, Press Alleges

The head of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency, Yossi Cohen, and Israel’s Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer petitioned the previous White House administration to lift sanctions on Israeli businessman and mining magnate Dan Gertler, who is accused by the US of severe corruption in his dealings in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Bloomberg reported on Saturday. According to the report, Cohen traveled to Congo at least twice in 2019 to meet with Gertler and his associate, former President of Congo Joseph Kabila, much to the dismay of the current president, Félix Tshisekedi, who barred any future meetings after finding out. In early March, the US Treasury Department revoked the one-year sanctions exemption eventually awarded to Gertler by former President Donald Trump during the latter’s final week in office. Israel’s daily Haaretz on Sunday added that Gertler’s lawyer is none other than Boaz Ben Zur, who also currently serves as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s lawyer in the embattled leader’s bribery trial. According to that report, Ben Zur over the past few years voiced concern to his associates that the freezing of Gertler’s accounts by the US was making it difficult for him to receive his retainer. Haaretz noted that lobbying by Cohen and Dermer, two prominent Israeli officials who are known to be personally close to Netanyahu, to free some of Gertler’s funds could imply that Netanyahu sent them so that Gertler and Netanyahu’s mutual attorney would be compensated. Ben Zur denied the “absurd speculation.”

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