LIMERICK’s Aughinish Alumina plant will fall outside the scope of the European Union’s latest round of sanctions against Russia, although one of its main owners, billionaire oligarch Oleg Deripaska, is on the new list of those embargoed, according to the Irish Independent.
The EU yesterday 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.
The EU announced sanctions against 217 individuals and 18 entities, including the adult daughters of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Mr Deripaska, a wealthy Russian aluminum magnate.
Mr. Deripaska is the largest shareholder of EN+, which holds a significant stake in Rusal, the 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 despite the fact that Mr Deripaska is on the EU list, his companies could escape penalties as the 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.
At the moment, the government is not providing any information on how it will implement the new sanctions.
Secretary of State Simon Coveney said last night they were “particularly important following the atrocities in Ukraine that came to light last week”.
“Ireland continues to support the strictest possible sanctions and I look forward to discussing further action with my colleagues at the Foreign Affairs Council in Luxembourg on Monday,” he said.
“We must do what is necessary to cut funding to the Kremlin’s war effort and urge those close to the regime to use their influence to end this unjust, illegal and immoral war.”
“The EU will continue to work closely with like-minded partners to coordinate the toughest sanctions. We stand united with Ukraine”.
To date, the bulk of Ireland’s enforcement of sanctions has been through the financial system, with the IFSC holding some £35 billion in Russian assets.
But so far the focus has not been so much on people with Irish connections or investments here.
Mr. Deripaska has been subject to US sanctions since 2018.
The UK last month sanctioned him along with six other oligarchs, including Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich, for their ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In addition to EN+, Rusal and the Aughinish refinery, Mr. Deripaska also owns an industrial conglomerate that includes a key supplier to the Russian military.
Aughinish is a major employer in County Limerick and, as the largest facility of its kind in Europe, is a key link in the supply chain for aluminium, a vital part 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 about 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.
As a result, EN+ reportedly intends to spin off its international assets, which include Aughinish Alumina, into a separate holding company to sever its ties with Russia and protect its value – and shareholder interests – from the threat of further sanctions.
https://www.independent.ie/business/limericks-aughinish-alumina-plant-may-avoid-line-of-fire-despite-owner-oleg-deripaska-being-added-to-eu-sanctions-list-41535441.html Limerick’s Aughinish Alumina plant can avoid the line of fire despite owner Oleg Deripaska being put on the EU sanctions list