WASHINGTON – Oleg V. Deripaska, a Russian oligarch closely linked to the Kremlin, sued the US government on Friday, urging him to lift the sanctions that he said would have cost him billions of dollars, "he said. have made "radioactive" in international business circles. criminal investigation and confiscation of assets in Russia.
In a lawsuit filed in the United States District Court in Washington, Deripaska said the sanctions, imposed in April by the Treasury Department, should be overturned because they deprived him of any proceedings and allowed him to go to court. relied on unproven smears not covered by the program.
The prosecution described Deripaska as "the latest victim of the country's internal political struggles and the persistent reaction to Russia's so-called interference in the 2016 US presidential election," saying that General hysteria surrounding Deripaska prevented him from challenging "penalties" by the usual channels.
The sanctions were imposed in retaliation for "a whole range of perverse activities around the world" of Russia, including its electoral interference and its incursions into neighboring Ukraine, said in a statement. 39, then Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
The sanctions affected seven oligarchs and their companies, including Mr. Deripaska, the aluminum giant he controlled, Rusal, as well as the holding company that owns it, EN +, and another company. that he controls.
After a Intensive lobbying and legal campaigning, Deripaska's companies – but not Mr. Deripaska personally – were granted a relief from the sanctions by the Treasury Department at the end of last year.
Yet in Friday's prosecution, Deripaska said he did not think he could benefit from a fair trial because of the "obvious bias" shown by Mr. Mnuchin and his department against the oligarch. The lawsuit was filed against the secretary, the Treasury Department, its Foreign Assets Control Office and Andrea M. Gacki, the director of this office.
A spokesman for the Treasury Department said the agency "generally does not comment on ongoing litigation".
The sanctions experts gave the prosecution little chance of success.
Such a lawsuit "is directed towards a presidential authority that can not usually be challenged in this way," said Brian O. Toole, former advisor to the Foreign Assets Control Office under the administration. Obama. "There is going to be a lot of lawyers fees without result," he said. wrote on Twitter.
The lawsuit took place even as the Democrats continued to seek information from Mr. Mnuchin and the Treasury Department about the agreement under which Mr. Deripaska's companies had been removed from the sanctions.
The US Treasury has described the deal as penalizing Deripaska by separating it from the companies, while allowing companies – which play an important role in the global aluminum markets – to survive.
But one A binding confidential document signed by both parties revealed that the agreement would leave Mr Deripaska and his allies in the majority control of EN +. The agreement would transfer 1.64% of the company's shares, worth about $ 100 million, to an entity called the Liberi Foundation, which, according to company officials, is a trust for children of Mr. Deripaska.
At a hearing of the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, questioned Mr. Mnuchin about the transfer of shares to the trust.
"It seems that Mr. Deripaska's children are benefiting from a sanctioning effort intended to punish him," said Wyden, calling the agreement "easing sanctions" as "strict sanctioning." Kops level ".
Mr. Mnuchin rejected the qualification.
"I can assure you that it was not a Keystone Kops effort," he said, explaining that the career cash managers at the Office of Foreign Assets Control had been working hard to develop an agreement that would sufficiently punish Mr. Deripaska.
Mnuchin said he will give Mr. Wyden new information next week on the transfer of shares to Mr. Deripaska's Children's Trust Fund.
On Friday evening, the spokesman of the Treasury Department said that the agency "showed the utmost transparency" regarding the transfer of shares to the Liberi Foundation, noting that this was contained in the confidential document provided to Congress . But the document did not specify that the organization was a trust fund for Mr. Deripaska's children – and that this information was not available to the public.
Friday, Mr. Mnuchin announced sanctions against six Russian officials and eight entities linked to "Russia's continued and persistent aggression in Ukraine", including the seizure of Ukrainian navy ships in a common waterway at the end of Last year.
The approach taken by the Trump government's defenders against the sanctions against Russia invoked the trial of Mr. Deripaska as proof that the Treasury Department had not been easy with the oligarch.
The lawsuit alleges that the sanctions "devastated Deripaska's wealth, reputation and economic livelihood." This includes a reduction in its net worth of more than $ 7.5 billion – or about 81% – while pushing its remaining businesses "down." the edge of collapse, "said the lawsuit.
The Treasury Department justified the sanctions in part by citing charges of corruption, links to organized crime and even murder, targeting Mr. Deripaska. However, Deripaska's lawyers described the charges as "nothing more than false rumors and insinuations, derived from defamatory attacks perpetrated by his rivals for decades," and "completely disassociated" from allegations of aid to activities. perverse of Russia.
Mr. Deripaska asserted that the Treasury Department was not attempting to associate it with "the interference of democratic processes, and Deripaska has not been charged anywhere in the world with". have done."