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Trump admin to lift sanctions on firms owned by Russian oligarch Deripaska

The Trump administration plans to lift sanctions on companies owned by Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska after he significantly reduced his ownership stake in them. 

The Treasury Department announced Wednesday that it would lift financial sanctions on Deripaska’s aluminum company, United Co. Rusal, as well as En+ Group plc and JSC EuroSibEnergo in 30 days, after Deripaska agreed to reduce his ownership stake in each of the companies to below 50 percent.

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Deripaska, a billionaire aluminum magnate with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, will remain sanctioned and his property blocked. 

“Treasury sanctioned these companies because of their ownership and control by sanctioned Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, not for the conduct of the companies themselves,” Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinOn The Money: McConnell says he would give Trump-backed coronavirus deal a Senate vote | Pelosi, Mnuchin see progress, but no breakthrough | Trump, House lawyers return to court in fight over financial records Progress, but no breakthrough, on coronavirus relief McConnell says he would give Trump-backed coronavirus deal a vote in Senate MORE said in a statement.

“These companies have committed to significantly diminish Deripaska’s ownership and sever his control. The companies will be subject to ongoing compliance and will face severe consequences if they fail to comply,” he continued.

The sanctions on Deripaska and his companies were imposed in April under a law passed by Congress to punish Russia for interfering in the 2016 presidential election, in addition to other malign activities.

The sanctions will be lifted in 30 days, according to Treasury, but Congress could still block the move. 

In a joint statement later Wednesday, the leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee noted that the agreement between Treasury and Deripaska “does not change the fact that Mr. Deripaska, his employees, and his companies work at Vladimir Putin’s behest and operate as de facto representatives of the Russian government.”

Sens. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrAs Trump downplayed the virus publicly, memo based on private briefings sparked stock sell-offs: NYT Hillicon Valley: Subpoenas for Facebook, Google and Twitter on the cards | Wray rebuffs mail-in voting conspiracies | Reps. raise mass surveillance concerns Bipartisan representatives demand answers on expired surveillance programs MORE (R-N.C.) and Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerTrump slight against Gold Star families adds to military woes Hillicon Valley: Twitter tightens rules before election | Intelligence chief briefed lawmakers on foreign influence threats | Democrats launch inquiry into Pentagon's moves on a national 5G network Senate Democrat raises concerns around Universal Health Services breach MORE (D-Va.) added that the deal “will require constant monitoring to ensure that neither Mr. Deripaska nor the Russian government violate the terms of the agreement” and insisted Congress will “hold accountable those who would violate” the sanctions.

The Trump administration separately on Wednesday unveiled new sanctions on Russian intelligence officers for election interference and the nerve agent attack on an ex-Russian spy in Britain.

-Updated 4:50 p.m.