- Democrats in Congress opposed move to lift restrictions
- Deripaska is ally of Russian president Vladimir Putin
The Trump administration has lifted sanctions on three companies, including the aluminum giant Rusal, linked to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. Democrats had led a push in Congress to continue the restrictions.
Earlier this month, Senate Republicans blocked an effort to keep the sanctions on Rusal, En+ Group and JSC EuroSibEnergo.
Some lawmakers from both parties have said it is inappropriate to ease sanctions on companies tied to Deripaska, an ally of Russian president Vladimir Putin, while special counsel Robert Mueller investigates whether Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign colluded with Moscow.
Deripaska had ties with Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager. Manafort pleaded guilty in September 2018 to attempted witness tampering and conspiring against the United States.
Trump administration officials and many Republicans who opposed the effort to keep the sanctions in place said they worried about the impact on the global aluminum industry.
They also said Deripaska had lowered his stakes in the companies so he no longer controlled them, a sign the sanctions were working.
In its statement on Sunday, the US treasury said the three companies had reduced Deripaska’s direct and indirect shareholding stake and severed his control.
That action, it said, ensured that most directors on the En+ and Rusal boards would be independent directors, including Americans and Europeans, who had no business, professional or family ties to Deripaska or any other person designated for sanctions by the Treasury department.
“The companies have also agreed to unprecedented transparency for Treasury into their operations by undertaking extensive, ongoing auditing, certification, and reporting requirements,” the department’s statement said. Deripaska himself remained subject to US sanctions.
After the Treasury announcement, Rusal said Jean-Pierre Thomas had resigned as chairman and director of the company as part of the deal to lift the sanctions. Shares in Rusal jumped more than 5% in early trading in Hong Kong on Monday.
Rusal is the world’s largest aluminum producer outside China. The sanctions on the company spurred demand for Chinese metal. China’s aluminum exports jumped to a record high in 2018.
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