U.S. Mysteriously Backs Off From Sanctions On Associates Of Russian Oligarch

Screengrab/PBS NewsHour/YouTube

JakeThomas

“Somebody overruled OFAC, essentially—that’s the most likely scenario," one sanctions expert said.

The U.S. government reportedly signaled late last year that a new round of sanctions was imminent for associates of Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, but two months later, the sanctions have yet to materialize and the Treasury Department is keeping mum, according to The Daily Beast.

Deripaska ran into trouble with the U.S. government in 2018, when he was sanctioned — along with his companies — as fallout from Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

But the oligarch struck a deal with the Treasury Department after the sanctions on Deripaska’s aluminum company roiled global markets. In exchange for sanctions relief, Deripaska had to agree to limits on his control over his companies.

Things were fairly quiet, The Daily Beast noted, until last December, when the Treasury indicated new sanctions were coming down the pike. Those sanctions “would have targeted the unnamed people and entities because of their proximity to Deripaska,” according to Western officials with knowledge of the move, but the Treasury never followed through.

Neither the Treasury nor the White House offered comment for the story, and a State Department spokesperson only said they would not confirm or deny whether new sanctions were under consideration.

The mysterious nature of the situation has led some to believe the sanctions were dropped due to political interference.

Brian O’Toole, a former senior official at the Office of Foreign Assets Control, told The Daily Beast it is possible that Treasury backed away from the sanctions if it thought Russian authorities were getting with the program, thereby making new measures unnecessary.

However, “If there was no such promise made or no such deal that was struck, then I think the pulling of the action suggests that there was a political decision to pull it, not a technocratic decision,” O’Toole said, adding, “Somebody overruled OFAC, essentially—that’s the most likely scenario.”

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