FT: US believes that Oleg Deripaska laundered money in the interests of Vladimir Putin
The U.S. Treasury Department said sanctions against Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska were imposed because he secretly laundered money in the interests of Vladimir Putin. This was reported by the Financial Times with reference to a letter that was sent to the oligarch’s lawyers from the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).
The defense of Deripaska demanded that the Justice Ministry declassify the materials that became the basis for imposing sanctions against the businessman. At the end of December 2019, the agency agreed to do this.
An OFAC response says that in 2016, Deripaska was allegedly identified as one of the people who owns assets and launders funds on behalf of Vladimir Putin, who was then prime minister. According to the agency, in July or until July 2011, the Russian authorities used Deripaska’s business activity at least once as a cover for transferring Putin’s personal funds.
According to the authors of the letter, Deripaska, together with other Russian oligarchs, invested $ 800 million in facilities for the Sochi Olympics, transferred personal funds to Putin’s account under the guise of business operations, and in 2004, on behalf of Putin, attended a meeting of the Russian and Kyrgyz authorities. At the beginning of 2018, Deripaska was implementing financial projects on behalf of Putin and Russia's top leadership, and in September 2017, he canceled the IPO of his GAZ company in order to conceal Putin's money laundering through it. All of this data is not accompanied by source information.
The billionaire Oleg Deripaska himself and the Kremlin representative have denied the information received from the US Treasury. "Just speculation, rumors and nonsense. It's nonsense," Deripaska said, commenting on the OFAC response to FT.
"This is not true. That's all," said Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for the Russian president. The US Treasury declined to comment on this issue.
Speaking about the meeting of the authorities of Russia and Kyrgyzstan in 2004, the billionaire explained that he was talking about the failed UC Rusal project in Kyrgyzstan, which was discussed at the end of 2003. "Some American diplomat heard a rumor and handed it over. If someone had come to the London court with this, the judge would have told him right away," Get out, "Deripaska commented.
Deripaska's party filed a lawsuit against OFAC in Washington, intending to prove that the decision on sanctions against him is not based on facts. The publication of the grounds for sanctions is one of the first stages of the proceedings. According to Deripaska himself, a court decision should be expected in about a year and a half.
The US Treasury Department entered Deripaska together with its largest companies (UC Rusal, En +, EuroSibEnergo, GAZ Group, etc.) on the SDN (Specially Designated Nationals) sanctions list in April 2018. But at the beginning of 2019, the agency agreed to lift sanctions against UC Rusal and En + with the condition that Deripaska's share in them be lower than control, leaving the businessman himself on the SDN list.
Deripaska was included in the sanctions list on two formal grounds: he allegedly acted on behalf of and in the interests of senior officials of the Russian Federation (in particular, in 2005 he bought an aluminum smelter in Montenegro "on behalf of President Vladimir Putin") and he "works in the energy sector "Russia (he owned control in the electricity company EuroSibEnergo").
OFAC regulations provide an opportunity for a person on the SDN sanctions list to apply to the board for review of such a decision. The reasons for lifting the sanctions may be a “positive change in behavior,” the irrelevance of the reason for the sanctions, or an actual OFAC error. In his next petition, which Deripaska sent in November, he points out that ownership of EuroSibEnergo has lost relevance after he gave up control of the En + group, which includes EuroSibEnergo. In addition, Deripaska points out that his inclusion in the sanctions list on the basis of Decree No. 13662 was erroneous, since EuroSibEnergo does not work in the "energy" sector, but in the electricity generation sector.