February 05, 2019

Here’s How Trump Can Make Better Use of Corporate Sanctions

By Peter Harrell

The Trump administration’s decision, which went into force on Jan. 27, to lift sanctions on several companies owned by the influential Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, has proven controversial. Congress nearly blocked the action—more than 80 percent of members of the U.S. House of Representatives and 57 Senators supported a resolution to overturn the plan. Only the Senate’s 60-vote filibuster threshold kept the resolution from landing on President Donald Trump’s desk.

The controversy centered on the terms of the deal. Deripaska, a longtime associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin, will remain sanctioned personally. But Deripaska’s major holdings, including Rusal, one of the world’s largest aluminum companies, were removed from U.S. sanctions lists after the oligarch agreed to cut his ownership stake in them to 45 percent and the companies agreed to new, independent oversight to ensure that Deripaska cannot fully control them. Controversy only increased after the press got hold of the deal’s , which showed that Deripaska’s close associates and foundation kept approximately another 12 percent of the company and that Deripaska himself got hundreds of millions of dollars in debt relief for the shares he divested.

U.S. officials in the executive branch and Congress should draw at least three major lessons from the fight over lifting sanctions on Deripaska’s companies.

Read the full article in Foreign Policy.

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