To abolish US sanctions against Oleg Deripaska's companies, if he fulfills all the conditions put forward by Washington, it may take more than a year, former officials of the US Treasury, interviewed by the Financial Times, believe.
So much time has gone to exclude from the black list of two Panamanian newspapers, formerly owned by US businessman Abdul Vaked. "It took more than a year, and it was much less complicated [than with UC Rusal]," said Adam Smith, a former senior adviser to the sanction unit of the US Treasury.
Industrial group En +, which controls the world's second-largest aluminum producer UC Rusal, announced that Deripaska's readiness to reduce the share in the group to less than 50%. In case of Deripaska's refusal to control the sanctions with UC Rusal can be withdrawn, explained earlier the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the US Treasury. At the same time, the representative of the agency noted that this step by itself is not a basis for exclusion from the sanctions list.
US Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin stressed that the purpose of the sanctions was not to destroy business of UC Rusal, but Deripaska himself because of his connections with the Kremlin. The US Treasury Department made concessions and extended until October 23 deadline for the completion of contracts between US companies and companies from other jurisdictions with UC Rusal. And the term for the sale of assets of Russian companies from the black list was extended until June 6.
The ministry's message has never been so direct, Adam Smith told the newspaper. "He made clear the goal - to effectively remove Deripaska from the international market," the former official said.
As soon as Deripaska finds the buyer for its share, OFAC will begin its verification with the help of information from US intelligence, the newspaper writes. In particular, the Ministry of Finance will ensure that the potential buyer is not fictitious, said the former employee of the sanction unit Joshua Kirshenbaum. He believes that the US Treasury will refrain from further reporting on the possibility of lifting sanctions against En + and UC Rusal. "They will try to keep the levers," Kirschenbaum argues.
The senior researcher of the Atlantic Council, Brian O'Toole, who previously worked as the head of the OFAC apparatus, added that the process of excluding Deripaska's companies from the sanctions list would be problematic and protracted. The billionaire himself and the Russian authorities will try to ensure that the sale of the stake does not pass in an emergency mode, O'Toole believes. At the same time, the longer the process takes, the worse for En + and UC Rusal, he concludes.