Twelve years after an Israeli billionaire secretly bribed Congolese officials to grease the wheels for his takeover of a Canadian-owned mine, its shareholders have finally won millions of dollars in compensation. But the ruling leaves nothing for an impoverished Congolese community that lost hundreds of potential jobs in the deal.
The development project in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, owned by Vancouver-based Africo Resources Ltd., was touted as potentially one of the world’s richest copper and cobalt mines, generating jobs and other local benefits such as water, health care and education.
Instead, according to U.S. court rulings, Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler bribed the Congolese officials and told them that the Canadian company must be “screwed and finished totally.” After a series of further deals, the project was mothballed and never built.
A federal judge in New York has now approved US$138-million in restitution to Africo’s shareholders. The money will be paid by a U.S. hedge fund, now known as Sculptor Capital Management Inc., whose investment in Mr. Gertler’s companies had helped finance the bribery.
“It’s a great victory,” said Tony Harwood, former CEO of Africo. “We were wronged. We were badly wronged.”
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