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US cites stories Oleg Deripaska helped Vladimir Putin launder money

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The US Treasury has justified sanctions towards Oleg Deripaska by citing stories that the Russian tycoon helped President Vladimir Putin launder cash.

In a letter sent to Mr Deripaska’s lawyers and seen by the Monetary Instances, the Workplace of International Asset Management, the company overseeing US sanctions coverage, writes that Mr Deripaska was in 2016 “reportedly recognized as one of many people holding property and laundering funds on behalf of Russian President Vladimir Putin”.

The Russian businessman additionally reportedly cancelled the itemizing of an organization to cover Mr Putin’s cash laundering, Ofac stated. 

The sanctions, which hit Mr Deripaska and 23 different distinguished Russian oligarchs and authorities officers in April 2018, have been the most crippling measures imposed by Washington in response to Moscow’s 2014 invasion of Crimea and alleged meddling within the 2016 US election.

Mr Deripaska has sued Ofac in Washington, forcing the company to elaborate on the explanations for its choice. The company nonetheless stated within the letter, despatched final month, that the checklist solely included “unclassified” and “releasable” justifications.

In response to the allegations that Mr Deripaska had laundered cash for Mr Putin and made investments on his orders, Dmitry Peskov, Mr Putin’s spokesman advised the FT: “That’s not true. So simple as that.”

Mr Deripaska as soon as reportedly cancelled an preliminary public providing of automaker Gaz “to cover Russian president Vladimir Putin’s cash laundering via the corporate, as lately as September 2017,” the letter reads. Gaz can be underneath US sanctions.

“In or earlier than July 2011, Deripaska’s enterprise exercise was reportedly used, on not less than one event, as a canopy to facilitate the switch of funds for the private use of then Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin,” Ofac additionally says.

“They don’t present any info. Simply guesses, rumours and balderdash,” Mr Deripaska advised the FT in an interview. “These are unsupported allegations. That is nonsense, as a substitute of the presumption of innocence till introduced with info that must be confirmed in a courtroom.” 

All of the justifications included the phrase “reportedly” or “reported” and no additional particulars or sources for the arguments have been supplied. 

Nor does the abstract embrace data supporting an announcement made by Ofac in April 2018 that there have been allegations that Mr Deripaska “ordered the homicide of a businessman, and had hyperlinks to a Russian organized crime group”.

The US Treasury declined to touch upon each the letter and Mr Deripaska’s response. 

Mr Deripaska constructed an aluminium, power and industrial empire from beforehand state-owned property privatised after the collapse of the Soviet Union that made him Russia’s richest man earlier than the 2008 monetary disaster.

He was beforehand married to the step-granddaughter of former president Boris Yeltsin, a relationship that noticed him known as a member of “The Household”, an off-the-cuff group of individuals seen as near Mr Yeltsin on the time he stepped down as president to be succeeded by Mr Putin.

The Ofac letter additionally alleges that Mr Deripaska made an $800m funding into “initiatives related to” the 2014 Winter Olympics within the Russian metropolis of Sochi, after Mr Putin “reportedly compelled Russian oligarchs” to take action. 

Mr Deripaska admitted that firms he managed invested in Sochi’s airport earlier than the Video games and funded development initiatives associated to the occasion, however insisted that they’d not responded to Mr Putin’s orders.

One other justification alleges that Mr Deripaska in late 2004 “reportedly acted on verbal directions from president Vladimir Putin in a high-level bilateral assembly between Russian and Kyryz representatives”.

Mr Deripaska stated that the element refers to an funding his former aluminium firm Rusal thought of in Kyrgyzstan in late 2003, which by no means materialised.

“Some fortunate US diplomat hears some rumours . . . they usually put this down [in a diplomatic cable],” he stated. “If somebody introduced one thing like this to a courtroom in London . . . the decide would simply inform them: ‘Please get misplaced’,” Mr Deripaska stated.

Mr Deripaska’s attorneys and Ofac officers will now trade a collection of counter-arguments earlier than the decide could rule on the case, a course of that Mr Deripaska stated may take about 18 months.

Extra reporting by James Politi in Washington

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