US officially lifts sanctions on firms tied to Russian oligarch

US officially lifts sanctions on firms tied to Russian oligarch
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The U.S. Treasury Department on Sunday officially lifted sanctions on businesses tied to the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska.

The department said in a news release that the Office of Foreign Assets Control lifted sanctions on EN+ Group Plc and EuroSibEnergo JSC, noting that each company has reduced Deripaska's "direct and indirect shareholding stake in these companies and severed his control." 

"This action ensures that the majority of directors on the En+ and Rusal boards will be independent directors – including U.S. and European persons – who have no business, professional, or family ties to Deripaska or any other SDN, and that independent U.S. persons vote a significant bloc of the shares of En+," the department said. 

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"The companies have also agreed to unprecedented transparency for Treasury into their operations by undertaking extensive, ongoing auditing, certification, and reporting requirements."

Deripaska, who is connected to Russian President Vladimir Putin, will personally remain under U.S. sanctions. 

The Trump administration announced in December that it would relax sanctions on businesses connected to Deripaska. The decision led to outrage from Democratic lawmakers, with Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerHillicon Valley: House Dems subpoena full Mueller report | DOJ pushes back at 'premature' subpoena | Dems reject offer to view report with fewer redactions | Trump camp runs Facebook ads about Mueller report | Uber gets B for self-driving cars Dem legal analyst says media 'overplayed' hand in Mueller coverage Former FBI official praises Barr for 'professional' press conference MORE (D-N.Y.) asking if the U.S. thinks it "should go easy on Putin and his cronies?"

Democrats in Congress attempted to block the move. But Senate Republicans were able to defeat the measure and prevent it from advancing to a floor vote earlier this month. 

The agreement the Treasury Department reached with Deripaska included having him cut his direct and indirect share ownership for each company below 50 percent. 

But The New York Times reported last week that Deripaska and his allies are set to retain majority ownership the energy company EN+.

Among other things, Deripaska will also reportedly be freed from debt he owes to a Russian government-owned bank as long as he transfers shares worth roughly $800 million to it. 

“Deripaska’s control over these entities is severed by this delisting, and he can no longer use them to carry out illicit activities on behalf of the Kremlin,” the Treasury Department said in a statement to the Times. “En+, Rusal and ESE have committed to provide Treasury with an unprecedented level of transparency into their dealings to ensure that Deripaska does not reassert control."