Administration admits Treasury's list of Russian 'oligarchs' was derived from Forbes

Administration admits Treasury's list of Russian 'oligarchs' was derived from Forbes
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A Trump administration list released by the Treasury Department this week of top Russian business figures and government officials possibly subject to future sanctions was derived from a Forbes Magazine list of the “200 richest businessmen in Russia 2017.”

BuzzFeed News reported Tuesday that a Treasury Department official confirmed the origin of the list, which the Trump administration released Monday while declining to levy new sanctions against Russia.

The State Department said Monday that the threat of possible sanctions is already having an effect on Moscow, but it unveiled a list of names it said could be affected by future financial penalties.


“The names of and net worth of oligarchs in the unclassified version of the report were selected based on objective criteria drawn from publicly available sources," an anonymous Treasury official told BuzzFeed.

The list, obtained by several news organizations, includes 114 senior political figures with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. It also contains a list of 96 oligarchs, which was apparently based on the Forbes rankings.

Russia warned in a statement that publishing the names would lead to "very serious consequences."

"This is another step, which, obviously, leads to further escalation of tensions," Aleksey Chepa, deputy chairman of the State Duma's international affairs committee, told official news agency RIA Novosti.

The Trump administration on Monday declined to implement sanctions against Russia passed overwhelmingly by Congress in 2017, arguing instead that the mere passage of the law and publication of the list was an effective deterrent.

The sanctions, which were approved by veto-proof majorities in both chambers despite complaints from President TrumpDonald John TrumpJustice Department preparing for Mueller report as soon as next week: reports Smollett lawyers declare 'Empire' star innocent Pelosi asks members to support resolution against emergency declaration MORE, were in response to Moscow's 2016 election meddling.

"Given the long timeframes generally associated with major defense deals, the results of this effort are only beginning to become apparent. From that perspective, if the law is working, sanctions on specific entities or individuals will not need to be imposed because the legislation is, in fact, serving as a deterrent," a State Department spokesperson said.

At least one Republican senator has already criticized the Trump administration's reticence to hit the Kremlin, calling the move to withhold sanctions "perplexing."

"The one thing we know for sure already is the Russians did attempt to meddle in our election. And not only should there be a price to pay in terms of sanctions, but also we need to put safeguards in place right now for the elections for this year,” Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsTexas GOP rep opposes Trump’s use of national emergency to get border wall GOP Sen. Collins says she'll back resolution to block Trump's emergency declaration Talk grows that Trump will fire Dan Coats MORE (R-Maine) said Tuesday on CNN’s “New Day.”