MIT removed Russian oligarch from board following sanctions from Treasury Department

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) quietly removed a Russian-billionaire from its Board of Trustees last year after the Treasury Department sanctioned him for advancing Russia’s "malign activities," according to a report on Tuesday.

Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty reports that Viktor Vekselberg was taken off of MIT’s board.

"In April 2018, as a result of [the Treasury Department] adding Mr. Vekselberg to its specially designated nationals list, MIT reviewed its legal obligations and suspended Mr. Vekselberg's Corporation membership,” an MIT spokeswoman, Kimberly Allen, told the news outlet in an email.


Last July, a report identified Vekselberg as the man who backed a $1.6 million lobbying campaign to help Russian interests in the U.S.

He reportedly met with President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from the Democratic debate As Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Leading Democrats largely pull punches at debate MORE’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, just days before Trump’s inauguration to discuss U.S.-Russia relations.

Vekselberg serves as president of the Skolkovo Foundation, where he was responsible for brokering a deal with MIT to develop a science and technology-focused university outside of Moscow, according to the news outlet, which added that the school  paid $300 million for the project.

MIT did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.

Vekselberg was one of several Russian nationals sanctioned and designated by the Treasury Department last April.

“The Russian government operates for the disproportionate benefit of oligarchs and government elites,” said Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinHillicon Valley: Google to limit political ad targeting | Senators scrutinize self-driving car safety | Trump to 'look at' Apple tariff exemption | Progressive lawmakers call for surveillance reforms | House panel advances telecom bills Trump says he's 'looking at' Apple tariff exemption during tour of Texas plant Trump tax breaks for low-income neighborhoods draw scrutiny MORE in a press release announcing the designations.

The release stated Vekselberg was designated for “operating in the energy sector of the Russian Federation economy.”

It added that two associates of Vekselberg were arrested for bribing officials connected to a Russian energy project.