The Trump administration on Sunday lifted sanctions on aluminum giant Rusal and other Russian firms linked to oligarch Oleg Deripaska, despite a Democratic-led push in the US Congress to maintain the restrictions, Reuters reports.
Earlier this month, 11 of Trump’s fellow Republicans in the US Senate joined Democrats in a failed effort to keep the sanctions on Rusal, its parent, En+ Group, and power firm JSC EuroSibEnergo. But that was not enough to overcome opposition from Trump and most of his fellow Republicans.
Advocates for keeping the sanctions had argued that Deripaska, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, retained too much control over the companies to lift sanctions imposed in April to punish Russia for actions including its annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea, efforts to interfere in US elections and support for Syria’s government in its civil war.
Some lawmakers from both parties also said it was inappropriate to ease the sanctions while Special Counsel Robert Mueller investigates whether Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign colluded with Moscow.
But in its statement on Sunday, the US Treasury Department 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 was quoted as saying in a statement.
Deripaska himself remains subject to US sanctions.
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’s decision to lower his stakes in the companies so that he no longer controlled them showed that the sanctions had worked.
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