US sanctions imposed against Russian aluminium producer Rusal threaten the lucrative flow of dividends from mining company Norilsk Nickel, amid concerns over doing business with the company and its oligarch owner Oleg Deripaska.
Rusal’s 27.8 per cent stake in Norilsk Nickel is one of the company’s most valuable assets, earning dividends of more than Rbs48bn ($750m) last year. But US sanctions that restrict doing business with the aluminium company have thrown the payments into doubt, people briefed on the situation told the FT, which would be a further blow to Mr Deripaska’s business empire.
On Friday, the US Office for Foreign Asset Control (Ofac), a branch of the US Treasury which oversees Washington’s sanctions policy, said on its website that “paying dividends to a blocked person” would result in secondary sanctions being imposed on the payer if “Ofac determines that such a transaction is ‘significant’”.
“We don’t have full clarity,” said a person with knowledge of the ongoing discussions. “Prior legal advice was that Norilsk didn’t see a direct risk of paying dividends to . . . Rusal,” said the person. “But the recent clarification has only made things more confusing. They are waiting for Ofac, essentially.”
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