Dan Gertler was born in December 1973, a grandson of Moshe Schnitzer, first President and co-founder of the Israel Diamond Exchange in 1947, who won the Israel Prize in 2004. His family was traditionally involved in cutting and merchandising diamonds. While growing up, Gertler spent as much time as he could learning about the Diamond trade from his Father and grandfather. As soon as he had completed his 3-year mandatory Service in the Israeli Defense Forces he opened his own Diamond Business.
In 1996, Gertler founded the Dan Gertler International (DGI) group of companies. He bought his first mine in the DRC in 1997. Israeli Billionaire, Gertler, purchased many of the Congo's "most profitable mineral rights" who has been a "close friend" of the President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Joseph Kabila since their youth. Joseph Kabila introduced Gertler to his Father Laurent Kabila in 2000, when he served as DRC President
From September 2000 through April 2001, Gertler had the sole right to buy "all diamonds produced in territory under the control of the Congolese Government", for which he had paid Kabila $20 million. He ran a quasi "comptoir" in the DRC with International Diamond Industries-Congo (IDI-Congo), the affiliate of his Israeli firm, IDI-Diamonds Industry. IDI-Congo received 70 percent of the profits and the Congolese Government received 30 percent, which included the state Diamond Producer, La Societé Minière de Bakwanga (MIBA) and all diamonds sold by private businesses. The deal was to "regulate and certify the origins of its diamonds under new UN requirements intended to weed out blood diamonds" and Diamond smuggling. Even with the IDI-Congo monopoly offering below-market prices for diamonds, the Congo received a greater percentage of Diamond revenues than before the monopoly was in place.
In 2001, Gertler established Emaxon Finance International Inc in Canada as a subsidiary of the Dan Gertler International (DGI). also reported by the International Development Research Centre according to the 2001 International Peace Information Service (IPIS) publication and according to the Quebec trade register. In April 2002, Emaxon Finance Corp secretly signed a contract through which Gertler gained a four-year right to market 88% of the rough-diamond production of the Societé minière de Bakwanga(MIBA), about a quarter of the DRC's legitimate Diamond exports at around 600,000 carats a month. Emaxon enjoyed a 5 percent discount on its purchase of MIBA diamonds which it then usually sold in the free market to the highest bidder. Emaxon lent MIBA $15 million to modernize its mining equipment.
In March 2004, Dan Gertler International founded Global Enterprises Corporate (GEC) in partnership with Beny Steinmetz Global. In May 2004 GEC signed an agreement with the state-owned Gécamines, finalized in September 2004, to rehabilitate and operate the Kananga and Tilwezembe copper mines. The deal was ratified October 13, 2005 by presidential decree.,
When CAMEC bought Boss Mining in February 2006, its prior owner Billy Rautenbach, a Zimbabwe businessman gained about 17% of CAMEC shares. Gertler and CAMEC made plans to combine the Mukondo assets, and a Katanga Province copper and cobalt project, into a new holding company. Rautenbach would be excluded from ownership in the new company due to the hostile relations that had developed between him and the DRC government.
In 2008, Camrose Resources Ltd, a Gertler family trust company, purchased s 62.5% share of Africo Resources. In February 2009, Africo confirmed that it had the go ahead from the DRC government for 75%-owned Kalukundi project.
Emerald Star Enterprises Limited, a company controlled by Gertler's family trust, was incorporated October 29, 2009 in the British Virgin Islands. December 21, 2009 Emerald Star sold an option to buy the remaining 50% stake of Société Minière de Kabolela et de Kipese SPRL, (a company formed by Melkior Resources Inc and Gécamines that holds the rights to develop the Kabolela cobalt-copper deposit) to Katash-founded mining company Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation (ENRC) who already owned 50%. The other 50% belonged to state-owned Gécamines. In February 2010 Emerald Star Enterprises Limited purchased Gécamines' 50% for $15 million and sold these shares to Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation (ENRC) for $50 million. Emerald Star Enterprises Limited paid $15 million, and sold for $75 million making a 500 percent return.
Gertler's name appears more than 200 times in the Panama Papers. Mossack Fonseca registered at least two companies for him: Burford Commercial S.A. and Norseville Estates S.A. Gertler's attorney said, Gertler had "no knowledge of the claims raised regarding the [Panamanian firm's decision] to terminate representation in 2011." Le Monde reported another two Mossack-Fonseca- incorporated shell companies, Foxwhelp Ltd and Caprikat Ltd, in the DR Congo oil industry.
In December 2012 the International Monetary Fund stopped a US$500m (£310m) loan to the Congo because of irregularities in the way a company reputed to be controlled by Dan Gertler acquired minerals from Joseph Kabila's government. In the same week Katash-founded mining company Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation (ENRC), Gertler's biggest copper mining partner in the Congo, severed its relationship with him, spending $550m to buying itself out of the partnership. Gertler has been accused of making the majority of his $2.5 billion fortune from "looting Congo at the expense of its people".
In April 2013, Gertler sold one of his Congo-based oil companies, Nessergy Ltd, for $150 million. Advocacy group Global Witness criticized the deal for lack of transparency on the part of Gertler and the Congolese government.
In 5 November 2017, the Paradise Papers, a set of confidential electronic documents relating to offshore investment, revealed that Glencore loaned $45 million to Gertler in exchange for his help with officials of the Democratic Republic of Congo in negotiations over a joint venture with state-owned Gécamines at the Katanga copper mine in 2009. Gertler appears in 120 documents regarding his relationship with Glencore. Glencore, which had effectively taken over Katanga, agreed to vote for the joint venture. The loan document specifically provided that repayment would be owed if agreement was not reached within three months. Gertler and Glencore have denied wrongdoing.
The United States Department of the Treasury specifically named Dan Gertler in the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) financial sanctions list for serious human rights abuse and corruption, under the Magnitsky Act and blocked his US-based assets. According to a February 2018 article in The Economist, the sanctions statement said that Gertler had "amassed his fortune through hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of opaque and corrupt mining and oil deals" in the DRC.