Aughinish facility likely falls outside the scope of new oligarch sanctions

The Limerick plant Aughinish Alumina will fall outside the scope of the European Union’s latest round of sanctions against Russia, even if one of its main owners, billionaire Oleg Deripaska, is on a forthcoming list of people subject to an embargo, according to the Irish Independent.

he EU today announced its fifth package of sanctions in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. It includes a ban on Russian coal and would ban most Russian trucks and ships from entering the EU.

This includes companies whose products or technology played a role in the invasion, key oligarchs and businessmen, senior Kremlin officials, and advocates of disinformation and information manipulation.

According to a report by Bloomberg, the EU had discussed sanctioning Mr Deripaska, a wealthy Russian aluminum magnate, along with several other key business figures.

Mr. Deripaska, who has been under US sanctions since 2018, is the largest shareholder in EN+, an industrial conglomerate that includes a major arms supplier to the Russian military as well as a significant stake in Rusal, owner of the Aughinish facility.

This has raised the prospect that Rusal and his plant at Aughinish could also be included in sanctions against Mr Deripaska here.

However, government officials have warned that even if Mr Deripaska is on the EU list, which could be released on Friday, his companies could escape penalties as EU sanctions so far do not affect minority holdings.

The Russian billionaire holds a 44.95 percent stake in EN+, which in turn owns a majority stake in Rusal, meaning his economic interest in the company that controls the Aughinish plant falls below the sanctions threshold.

Aughinish is a major employer in Limerick and, as the largest refinery of its kind in Europe, is a vital link in the aluminum supply chain, a mainstay of the industry.

On Wednesday, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said the government is aware of the importance of Rusal’s huge Limerick plant, which employs around 400 people and supplies a third of the EU’s alumina.

On Thursday evening, Rusal’s chairman called for “harsh punishment” for the perpetrators of the alleged killings of civilians in the Ukrainian city of Bucha, putting the company on a possible collision course with the Kremlin.

In a statement published on Rusal’s own website, Dutch leader Bernard Zonneveld called for an “objective and impartial investigation” into alleged war crimes committed in Bucha, near Kyiv, when the city was under Russian control. Evidence of atrocities was uncovered as Ukrainian troops drove the occupiers out of the area in recent days.

“We were shocked by reports from the Ukrainian city of Bucha. We believe this crime should be thoroughly investigated. We support an objective and impartial investigation into this crime and call for severe punishment for the perpetrators. No matter how harsh it may seem in the context of the ongoing information warfare,” Mr. Zonneveld said.

Mr Zonneveld stopped condemning Russian President Vladimir Putin or the invasion of Ukraine itself, but he went much further than other big Russian companies when he called for punishment of those found guilty of a crime.

Rusal has previously warned of supply, funding and profit risks to its business as a result of the war in Ukraine. Aughinish facility likely falls outside the scope of new oligarch sanctions

Fry Electronics Team

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