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Schumer Says He Will Force Vote On U.S. Move To Ease Sanctions On Deripaska

Oleg Deripaska
Oleg Deripaska

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer says he will use the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act to force a vote on a resolution disapproving a decision by President Donald Trump to relax sanctions on companies connected to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska.

“After consultation with the relevant committee ranking members and my colleagues, I have concluded that the Treasury Department’s proposal is flawed and fails to sufficiently limit Oleg Deripaska’s control and influence of these companies, and the Senate should move to block this misguided effort by the Trump administration and keep these sanctions in place,” the Democratic senator from New York said in a statement on January 13.

Congress has been reviewing the Trump administration’s decision -- announced in December -- to lift sanctions against three companies that Deripaska, who has close ties to the Kremlin, controls: Rusal, EN+, and JSC EuroSibEnergo.

Early last year, the Trump administration indicated it was planning to sanction Rusal -- one of the world’s largest aluminum companies -- but that announcement roiled global markets, sending metal prices soaring.

The Treasury Department delayed imposing the sanctions several times, amid a reported lobbying campaign by Deripaska’s companies.

In December, the administration notified Congress it would lift the sanctions. That triggered a clause in Congress that gives lawmakers 30 days to try to reverse the decision by passing a joint resolution of disapproval.

In a statement on January 12, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Deripaska remained under sanctions and "his property and interests remain blocked, and any companies he controls are also sanctioned."

House Democrats, however, have been publicly angry, with the leader of the chamber, Nancy Pelosi, calling it "one of the worst classified briefings we've received from the Trump administration."

"[Mnuchin] answered some questions, but he didn’t give testimony. They had an intelligence briefing, which I won’t go into, and then they read a document that was unclassified, wasting the time of members of Congress,” she said.

Deripaska is a billionaire tycoon who made his fortune in aluminum and metals trading. He was barred from entering the United States in the 2000s, on allegations of ties to organized crime.

He was also a business partner of Paul Manafort, Trump's campaign chairman during part of the 2016 presidential election.

With reporting by The Hill, Reuters, and AP