NEW YORK, May 1. /TASS/. Washington is not seeking to put Russia’s aluminum producer Rusal out of business by sanctioning the company, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in an interview aired by Bloomberg TV channel on Monday, adding though that its majority owner Oleg Deripaska must reduce his stake to less than 50%.
"Rusal was picked up not because we were targeting Rusal, but because we were targeting the ownership of Rusal. We understood the impact that this would have on a lot of hard workers, we have extended the license with Rusal to try to deal with these issues, the company has petitioned us for delisting," he said, adding that "one of the issues will be selling down the majority interest."
Asked whether penalties may be removed if Deripaska remains a minority shareholder he said: "It wouldn’t be appropriate for me to go through the exact details of what will be ok and what won’t be ok. There are a lot of facts and circumstances that we are discussing," Mnuchin said.
"The first aspect would be that he sells down below 50%," Treasury Secretary said.
"We are having conversations with the company, obviously, we found those discussions encouraging, and that’s why we extended the license to allow the company to have time and us to have time to deal with these issues. Our objective was not to put Rusal out of business and that’s why we extended the license," he noted.
On April 6, the US Treasury slapped sanctions against Russian officials, businessmen and companies. Among them were several enterprises belonging to Rusal’s co-owner Oleg Deripaska, including Agroholding Kuban, Eurosibenergo, Rusal, Russian Machines Holding and GAZ Group, B-Finance investment company, Basic Element, and En+.
The sanctions imply that the assets of these companies are frozen. Before May 7, US investors should get rid of securities of three of 12 Russian companies from the list, and cancel contracts with all enterprises subject to restrictions and their subsidiaries before June 5. Later the deadline for completion of transactions with Rusal and the companies it controls (owns 50% shares or more) was extended until October 23.
On April 27, it was reported that Deripaska had agreed to reduce his shareholding in En+ Group to below 50% and step down from the board of directors. However, the US Treasury said later that the reduction of Deripaska’s share in the company would not necessarily mean that sanctions against Rusal would be lifted.