Trump to Remove Sanctions Placed On Companies Owned By Russian Oligarch Oleg Deripaska
When taking a close look at Russian election interference, the name Oleg Deripaska repeatedly appears. Deripaska, a wealthy oligarch has been connected to Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, Michael Cohen and even Lindsay Graham.
The oligarch made his fortune by founding an Aluminum company called Rusal, now the 2nd biggest in the world. This week, the Trump administration announced plans to remove the sanctions that had been placed on Rusal.
The sanctions were put in place to punish Deripaska for his role in 2016 election meddling. To counteract the punishment, Deripaska pulled away from his company and now holds only a 45% ownership stake.
Andrea Gacki, a Treasury Office official, said that Rusal will be removed from the list, but Deripaska will remain. She also noted the companies, “have agreed to undertake significant restructuring and corporate governance changes to address the circumstances that led to their designation.”
The move has been in the works for months and the timing may be intentional. If lawmakers wanted to block the removal of sanctions, they’d have to do so within 30 days. Congress, out of session for the holiday, will undergo major changes come January.
Some Democrats were critical of the move. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), said, “this appears to be a shell game brokered by a sanctioned Russian bank, VTB Bank, involving one of Putin’s closest buddies, Oleg Deripaska. It only encourages Putin to pursue his destabilizing activities around the world.”
Peter Harrell, who had worked in sanctions under President Obama doesn’t think Deripaska will suffer much. He said, “On the other hand, he gets to hold on to 45 percent of the companies, and he’ll be able to get good value for that stake and those dividends in three years or five years or whenever Deripaska is able to get off the sanctions list himself.”