Biden Admin Considers Dropping Sanctions On Mining Magnate Accused Of Corruption In Push For Electric Vehicles: REPORT

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Will Kessler Contributor
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The Biden administration has met with a currently sanctioned businessman and Saudi Arabia to create a plan to obtain minerals used in the production of electric vehicles (EV), according to The Wall Street Journal.

The deal would allow Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler to work with Saudi Arabia, which would buy stakes in cobalt and copper mines in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and give the U.S. a portion of those minerals to fuel the shift to EVs that President Joe Biden has made a central part of his presidency, according to the WSJ. The Treasury Department first sanctioned Gertler in 2017 after accusing him of using corrupt mining and oil deals in the DRC to build his fortune, and placed more restrictions in 2018 on associated entities after he allegedly skirted the sanctions. (RELATED: Massive EV Battery Factory May Have To Rely On Coal Plant For It To Function)

The talks represent a change in course for the Biden administration, which had previously revoked a one-year license in March 2021 that had been granted by the Trump administration to allow Gertler to access financial institutions and blocked funds as long as he submitted reports of his activities, according to the WSJ. At the time of revocation, the U.S. said the license was “inconsistent with America’s strong foreign policy interests” in the fight against corruption in countries like the DRC.

The White House told the Daily Caller News Foundation that the sanctions currently remain in place on Gertler.

Saudi Arabia, under the deal, could invest around $2 billion in portions of cobalt and copper mining companies or buy entire operations, according to the WSJ. Negotiations are still in the early stages, but the potential deal would provide a source of these minerals to American companies.

The deal comes amid Biden’s push to have 50% of passenger vehicle sales be EVs by 2030, as well as 67% of all light-duty vehicles sold after model year 2032. The Biden administration has sought to offset the increased price of EVs through a $7,500 tax credit through funding in the Inflation Reduction Act.

The DRC is notorious for its high frequency of unsafe child labor in its mines, with the U.S. government committing $23 million in taxpayer funds to companies in the region to improve labor standards in the mines and to integrate local DRC operations into supply chains. Entities controlled by the Chinese Communist Party control 75% of the global cobalt supply and create around 70% of the world’s lithium-ion batteries, which are essential to the production of EVs.

The Department of the Treasury did not immediately respond to a request to comment from the DCNF.

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