Treasury will mull easing sanctions on aluminum producer with ties to Putin

Source: The Hill | April 23, 2018 | Sylvan Lane

U.S. officials will consider easing sanctions on Rusal, an aluminum producer controlled by a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Treasury Department announced Monday.

The Treasury Department on Monday extended the time frame during which companies could wind down their dealings with the faltering aluminum producer targeted by U.S. sanctions. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin also said the department would consider a petition from Rusal to lift the sanctions, given the economic troubles the actions caused for U.S. allies. 

Companies now have until October 23 to end their business with Rusal, one of the world’s largest aluminum producers, after U.S. sanctions against the firm spurred chaos in metals markets.

“The U.S. government is not targeting the hardworking people who depend on RUSAL and its subsidiaries,” Mnuchin said Monday. “Given the impact on our partners and allies, we are issuing a general license extending the maintenance and wind-down period while we consider RUSAL’s petition.”  

Rusal is controlled by Oleg Deripaska, one of several oligarchs with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin that the U.S. targeted with financial sanctions on April 6. Treasury also blocked U.S. persons and businesses from transactions with Rusal and EN+ Group, the industrial holding company owned by Deripaska that controls Rusal.

U.S. sanctions against Rusal, which produces roughly 7 percent of the world’s aluminum, sent prices for the metal their highest levels in several years. Rusal’s customers scrambled to find other suppliers while stockpiles of the metal from its abandoned orders piled up.

Aluminum prices dropped more than 8 percent on Treasury’s announcement.

Even so, Treasury said it would not revoke the sanctions on Rusal until Deripaska was no longer its owner “absent other adverse information.”

“The path for the United States to provide sanctions relief is through divestment and relinquishment of control of RUSAL by Oleg Deripaska,” Treasury said in a Monday update to the sanctions on the company.

Deripaska is a veteran of Putin’s inner circle and a figure in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russia’s efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election.

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