According to a report from the Daily Beast’s Betsy Swan, the Treasury Department was in the process of formalizing new sanctions against Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska in December — and those plans were suddenly set aside without any explanation.
The report states, “Late last year, the U.S. government signaled that it was about to level a new round of sanctions targeting people and entities linked to Deripaska, according to two Western officials with knowledge of the communication, ” while noting that Deripaska had already been the subject of sanctions in April of 2018 for his involvement with imprisoned Donald Trump associate Paul Manafort. Sanctions on Deripaska’s companies have since been lifted, but new ones were in the works.
“Until December, that is. What’s strange is that despite the signal, Treasury didn’t follow through and the sanctions—which would have targeted the unnamed people and entities because of their proximity to Deripaska—didn’t materialize. It’s been two months since the U.S. indicated that the new sanctions were about to come out, and there’s been no movement from Treasury on the oligarch,” Swan writes. “The two months of inaction has stirred suspicions of political interference in the sanctions process.”
According to Brian O’Toole, formerly a senior official at Office of Foreign Assets Control, the sudden silence reeks of meddling at some level.
“If there was no such promise made or no such deal that was struck, then I think the pulling of the action suggests that there was a political decision to pull it, not a technocratic decision,” O’Toole explained. “Somebody overruled OFAC, essentially—that’s the most likely scenario.”
Democrat Rep. Lloyd Doggett (TX) agreed.
“In the latest episode of the sordid spectacle of Trump helping Putin, attempted constraint of a Putin buddy has apparently once again been thwarted,” Doggett said in a statement. “In previous episodes, Trump granted special treatment for Deripaska. A strong bipartisan House vote resolved no way. Trump sycophant McConnell blocks the resolution shortly before the announcement of a new Russian aluminum plant in Kentucky. A year later, even the Trump Treasury Department apparently recognized the wrongdoing, but doing wrong to benefit Putin is always right in the Trump Administration.”
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