The United States will not exclude billionaire Kerimov from the sanctions list

The French police removed all charges from Suleiman Kerimov - now he can return to Russia. However, this is unlikely to convince the United States to exclude a billionaire from the sanctions list.
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On June 28, there were two "sanction" events in the world. If the first of them had a wide resonance in our country, the second one remained virtually unnoticed. The first was the removal of the French police charges from Suleiman Kerimov. According to the people close to the billionaire and senator, it will help him to free himself from American sanctions imposed in April.
The second news related to the publication of the sanctions regulations on the so-called "Magnitsky law", which allows US sanctions against people (officials and their relatives) involved in corruption or human rights violations. Based on the norms of this law, in December last year, Donald Trump announced in the United States a state of emergency in connection with corruption abroad and instructed subordinate authorities to fight it through sanctions. However, how to apply the law, it was not clear before. This can be confirmed by the fact that on the grounds of Magnitsky's law for all time under the US sanctions only 15 individuals were caught, and from Russians - the eldest son of the Prosecutor General of Russia. Now the list, codenamed GLOMAG (Global Magnitsky), will be replenished much more often.

Problems of Kerimov

Suleiman Kerimov fell under US sanctions on April 6, 2018. The expansion of the "Russian" sanctions list was then accompanied by an explanation by the US Treasury: "Today's action is aimed at a number of individuals ... including those who benefit from the Putin regime and play a key role in promoting the malicious actions of Russia." According to the press release of the US Treasury: "Suleiman Kerimov is included [in the sanctions list] because he is an official of the Russian Federation. Kerimov is a member of the Federation Council. " It was also mentioned the detention of Kerimov by the French police on November 20, 2017 and the subsequent accusations of non-payment of € 400 million of taxes related to the purchase of villas in Nice. It also said that during the visits to France Kerimov allegedly could bring with him full suitcases of cash.

Both chambers of the Russian parliament at that time criticized the actions of the French siloviki, reminding that Kerimov has diplomatic immunity, hence his detention is contrary to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

At the time of Kerimov's detention, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the US Treasury prepared a report for the special committee of the US Congress on top officials, oligarchs and Russian state-owned enterprises. The final list was published on January 29, 2018, was named "Kremlin" and in fact was a Russian version of the ranking of dollar billionaires Forbes for 2017. For everyone whose name was included in the "Kremlin list", OFAC had a separate folder. The main tool for obtaining information from OFAC is the Internet, and all the news about the detention of Kerimov in France fell at the right time.

Can it now, Kerimov, from which all charges in France have been dropped, leave the US sanctions list? First, one must understand that the press release of the US Treasury, which spoke about the problems of Kerimov with French law, can not become a basis for challenging. In other words, everything that is said about the suitcases of money (which, it turns out, Kerimov did not drive anywhere), you can forget.

The real reason for falling under US sanctions is always the OFAC compliance of a person with formal grounds from the corresponding normative act. If you once again carefully review the April sanctions list, then in the paragraph dedicated to every Russian included in it, you can find a reference to this act. It is hidden in square brackets, and in the case of Kerimov, it is about the decree of Barack Obama on March 16, 2014 (UKRAINE-EO13661), which the then president expanded the state of emergency in the US in connection with the actions and policies of the Russian government in Ukraine. Article 1 of this decree allows the US authorities to impose sanctions on any higher official of the Russian Federation or "a person who belongs, is controlled, acts on behalf of or in the interests of the Government of the Russian Federation".

If we go back to the folder that was put on Kerimov in OFAC, we can assume that it contains:

- documents confirming the status of the highest official (senator) in Russia;

- materials confirming the size of the state;

- articles in the media highlighting the proximity to the ruling elite of Russia or photographs taken with the Russian president;

- Articles on detention in France in connection with alleged money laundering.

Back in 1999, the US Court of Appeals authorized the administrative authorities to include in the sanctions list on the basis of a wide range of sources, including media, Internet and even rumors, so OFAC does not have to have official documents of foreign authorities.

Kerimov as a person included in the sanctions list has the opportunity for six years to submit to OFAC a statement on the administrative review of his presence in it. In order for such an appeal to succeed, it is necessary to prove convincingly that, whatever the reasons and grounds for inclusion, they no longer correspond to reality or initially did not correspond to reality. OFAC has very well mastered the lessons of a few court cases in the category of cases on exclusion from sanctions lists, from which it can be concluded that the person is not just sanctioned for sanctions, but only when there are materials supporting this decision in the folder and the head of the US Treasury will take such a decision .

Thus, even if the articles on the fourth paragraph (on the detention of Kerimov) have lost their weight and inclusion in the sanctions list with such motivation is no longer true, at least three grounds for Kerimov to be sanctions remain in force. So the Senator's chances for an exception from sanctions will become more real after his departure from the upper house of the Russian parliament.