Kabila, who had formed a government in which former rebel chiefs were cabinet ministers as part of the peace deal, tried to kick-start Congo’s economy. The ministers signed deals to exploit the country’s natural resources with foreign companies, many of them at prices that undervalued the assets, the World Bank said.
In 2006, Kabila’s People’s Party for Reconstruction and Development, with a platform of rebuilding the country’s infrastructure, was elected in Congo’s first free elections in four decades. The backroom deals continued, said Peter Rosenblum, a professor of law at Columbia University who headed the Carter Center’s mission to observe the mining review. “What happened in 2008 and 2009 really proved that the Gertlers of the world would win by doing business the way they’d been doing it all along,” Rosenblum said. Today, Transparency International ranks only a dozen countries below Congo in its Corruption Perceptions Index.
As Kabila cemented his hold on power, Gertler expanded beyond diamonds into mining of other minerals and metals.