The first business day back at work for the United States federal government saw the long-awaited lifting of sanctions from U.C. Rusal, En+ Group, and JSC EuroSibEnergo, bringing to a close the restrictions that crippled the firms since their imposition last April.
In a release issued late Sunday, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control said that the trio of companies won their release from the List of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons thanks to their action in drastically scaling back the influence of founder and prominent Russian businessman Oleg Deripaska.
Additionally, OFAC points out that the firms have gone to great lengths to improve transparency in their corporate dealings by “undertaking extensive, ongoing auditing, certification, and reporting requirements.”
OFAC notes that Deripaska continues on as a designated party, and that the office’s actions here have no effect relative to his penalties.
The move to relax sanctions on Rusal was championed by some Trump administration officials and joined by other Republicans, all of whom agreed that continued sanctions on Rusal would do little beyond continuing to squeeze the global aluminium industry. Additionally, many of the proponents of removing sanctions upon Rusal pointed out that Deripaska’s effective ouster from power showed that the sanctions were a success.
The market responded to the news of a sanction-free Rusal by pulling back aluminium prices by 2 percent at the LME, falling to US$1,882 per metric ton late in the day today.
“This doesn’t have the equivalent shock factor as the initial decision … this was largely priced into the market,” opined Macquarie analyst Vivienne Lloyd to Reuters in response.
In a related development, the LME announced that the ban on Rusal aluminium has been lifted as well, allowing for Rusal’s aluminium to be placed on warrant. Experts expect that the move will help to replenish aluminium inventories which, at 1.3 million metric tons, are at their lowest level since last May.