Founder and President of the DGI Group of Companies, Dan Gertler is a leading presence in international diamond markets. A grandson of Mr. Moshe Schnitzer, the founder of the Israeli Diamond Bourse, he has taken the family’s expertise in the diamond industry to new directions. Dan Gertler’s areas of expertise include not only gemology and diamond merchandising, but also complex ventures and operations in developing countries, associated with mining, industry, logistics, trade and finance.
Founded by Dan Gertler in 1996, the DGI Group of Companies is involved in a wide range of activities associated with the diamond industry. The group is one of the world’s leading wholesale distributors of rough and polished diamonds.
Based in the Israeli Diamond Exchange, the DGI Group of Companies is involved in all aspects of the diamond production chain. With subsidiaries on four continents, the DGI Group plays an important role in the global diamond industry. DGI partners include state and local government agencies, financial institutions, diamond mining enterprises, manufacturers and merchandisers.
Since its founding in 1996, the group has grown to include 11 subsidiaries in North and South America, Israel, Africa and Europe. The group’s guiding principle is to make strategic investments in every aspect of the diamond industry: from mining to merchandising; from project financing to offloading agreements.
Traditionally the Gertler family worked in diamond-cutting and diamond-marketing spheres. In the end of 1990’s Dan Gertler came up with an initiative of making investments in diamond mining. He contacted the Kabyle clan, which ruled Congo. Gertler paid $20 mln to Loran Kabyle for the monopoly right to export Congo diamonds, and founded International Diamond Industry in Congo. Gertler also made arms procurement and consulted Congo force structures. In 2001 arms shipments from Israel to Congo amounted to $700,000. For this operations Gertler engaged high-ranking Israel officers Avigor Ben Gal and Meir Dagan. Israel Military Industries provided arms, and this indicates that the operation was approved by top Israeli leadership.
In 2001, after Loran Kabyle’s death, Gertler lost his influence in Congo for a short time. But nowadays Gertler has returned it after earning confidence of Kabyle’s son, who rules Congo now. Gertler took an obligation to promote Congo’s interests in USA. In November 2003 Kabyle-junior met President Bush – their meeting was organized by Gertler with the help of M. Tempelsman. Today Gertler got back his monopoly right to export Congo diamonds, he also has preferences in buying diamonds inside the country and owns two primary diamond deposits in Congo.
Some details of military and technical partnership of DGI and Congo leaders became public due to the “Yosi Kamissa case”. Yosi Kamissa, a former officer of Israeli police antiterrorist department, was engaged by Gertler for consulting and training Congo special forces (it was one of the conditions for DGI for getting preferences in mining diamonds in Congo). Yosi Kamissa demanded from Gertler 2.5 mln shekels, alleging that the terms of contract with him were violated. Gentler paid Kamissa 1.4 mln shekels. The investigation revealed that a powerful Israeli “left” politician Avigor Liberman was Gertler’s partner.
It should be noted that many world leaders of high-tech industry like Siemens, Intel, Nokia, Alcatel, Ericsson are interested in informal connections with Congo leadership since this country is one of the biggest suppliers of columbite-tantalite ore to the world market (tantalite – is a metal used in modern high-tech electronics). It is quite possible that confidential relations between Joseph Kabyle and Dan Gertler help the latter's contacts with European and American lobbyists of high-tech industry giants as well as Israel Military Industries and Israeli military-industrial complex in general.
Gertler's relationship with Leviev is one of a sharp rivalry, not only with regard to diamond business, but also ideology. Like Leviev, Gertler also professes khodassizm and apparently regards it as an ideological platform of his business. But Gertler ‘s connections with Israel leaders are more serious. Gertler did his best to limit Leviev’s influence in Angola and Russia.
It is possible, that Russian diamond mining company ALROSA expected to get some preferences in Congo when it when it entered into a joint venture with Gertler in Catoca (Angola). But there is still no information about ALROSA progress in Congo.
In general it should be noted that the DGI Group and personally Gertler are highly integrated in the Israeli political process and enjoy traditional support from state institutions and special services.
(This story is based on Russian and foreign media and Internet reports)