Congo says close to deal to recover $2 billion worth of assets from Israeli investor

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Democratic Republic of Congo President Felix Tshisekedi. REUTERS/ Hereward Holland

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KINSHASA, Feb 19 (Reuters) - Democratic Republic of Congo is close to a deal with Fleurette Group, controlled by Israeli investor Dan Gertler, that could enable it to recover mining and oil assets worth about $2 billion, minutes of a cabinet meeting showed on Saturday.

The minutes of the Friday meeting said a commission set up to negotiate with Fleurette Group had concluded terms of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) which would also enable the government to recover a substantial part of royalties from Kamoto Copper Company that were ceded to the group.

The minutes said President Felix Tshisekedi directed the justice ministry to analyse and sign the MoU as soon as possible to enable Congo to recover full possession of the mining and oil assets.

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Fleurette Group could not be reached for comment.

The U.S. Treasury imposed sanctions on Gertler and more than 30 of his businesses in December 2017 and June 2018, accusing him of leveraging his friendship with former Congo President Joseph Kabila to secure lucrative mining deals. read more

Gertler denies any wrongdoing.

Anti-corruption group Congo is Not for Sale (CNPAV), which has previously warned the mineral-rich country could lose out on $1.76 billion in potential royalty payments from copper and cobalt mining deals with Gertler's Group, said in a statement the potential MoU was a first step.

"For years we have been screaming loud and clear that Congo has already lost billions due to deals with Dan Gertler and it will only get worse if nothing is done," CNPAV spokesman Jean-Claude Mputu said in a statement.

He added there were still some crucial aspects of the deal to be clarified, particularly details of the MoU, and the final destination of the assets that will be recovered.

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Writing by Bate Felix Editing by Mark Potter

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