CNN: Friday CNN reported that the Trump administration is “looking into lifting sanctions against a major Russian aluminium company.”
The aluminium company in question, Rusal was founded by one of “Vladimir Putin’s closests allies,” oligarch Oleg Deripaska, who has since stepped down from the company.
The sanctions were put in place in April “in an attempt to punish,” Russia for 2016 presidential election interference.
In an interview with CNN, Secretary of the Treasury, Steven Mnuchin, told them “It wasn’t a surprise that Rusal was going to get picked up if we sanctioned Deripaska,” he added, “We evaluated the impact. We made a decision.”
Deripaska according to the Treasury Department is accused of, “bribery, extortion, racketeering, ordering the murder of a rival businessman and having links to organized crime,” Deripaska has denied the accusations.
Deripaska is one of six Russian oligarchs that the Treasury specifically targeted for sanctions, in order to hurt Putin’s inner circle.
At the time the sanctions were announced , Mnuchin said there were intended to “punish Russia for agreessive behavior,” according to the linked CNN article that included Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
Speaking from the G-20 sidelines Saturday from Buenos Aires, Munchin told CNN, “We were going to enforce the Russia sanctions,” he added, “The objective was to impact the oligarchs, not impact the hardworking people of Rusal as a result of the sanctions.”
Rusal in order to seek sanctions relief has taken steps to minimize Deripaska’s “involvement in the company.” Deripaska has reduced his stake to below 50 percent and resigned from the firm’s board. In May seven other members of the board, all nominated by Deripaska, resigned.
Deripaska, also has ties to former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, whose trial is set to begin on Tuesday, in Alexandria, Virginia, for financial crimes related to his work including his work with Russian-friendly government of Ukraine.
Why it Might Matter
The review of sanctions against Rusal comes just weeks after President Trump and Vladimir Putin met in private for two hours alone with only translators, it’s logical any move to give Russian companies relief will fuel the speculation as to what was promised during that meeting. It also comes at a time U.S. government national security agencies are warning of continued Russian led election interference and have admitted to being unprepared for stronger cyber attacks against voting machines and state data computer servers, that store voter identification information.
For an in depth look as to who is Oleg Deripaska, @ The News Blender.