The Inspectors General of the Treasury and State Departments should investigate whether former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo violated the law and ethics rules by lifting economic sanctions against billionaire Dan Gertler, according to a complaint sent today by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. Mnuchin and Pompeo were both directly involved in controversial licensing decisions granting Gertler access to his assets, undermining U.S. foreign policy interests.
Lifting sanctions against Gertler in the final days of the Trump administration may have violated the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, which addresses human rights abuses and corruption. Former President Trump placed sanctions on Gertler in 2017 for extensive corruption in the Democratic Republic of Congo that threatened U.S. interests. Gertler spent more than a year lobbying the Trump administration to lift the sanctions, hiring lawyers closely associated with Trump to plead his case.
“Granting Dan Gertler access to his assets in the waning days of the Trump Administration raises serious questions as to whether former Secretaries Mnuchin and Pompeo violated an important law or made this decision for improper reasons, especially because the Trump Administration never provided a justification for issuing the licenses,” said CREW President Noah Bookbinder. “In order to restore the legitimacy of U.S. anti-corruption efforts, the Treasury and State Departments’ Offices of Inspector Generals must investigate Mnuchin and Pompeo’s actions and whether they violated the law.”
President Biden’s administration immediately revoked the special permissions issued to Gertler by the previous administration shortly after taking office. The complaint relies in part on documents obtained by CREW as a result of a Freedom of Information Act request lawsuit filed in May 2021 to obtain documents pertaining to Gertler and the decision to lift the economic sanctions levied against him.
“The public deserves to know the motivation behind these last minute changes involving Dan Gertler, and what went on behind closed doors,” said Bookbinder. “The public should know when top officials are making political decisions that benefit personal pursuits rather than legitimate U.S. interests.”