WASHINGTON – Seven new Democratic chairmen of House committees demanded Tuesday that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin hold off on the planned easing of sanctions against three companies tied to Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska.
“As the chairs of committees with oversight jurisdiction over the US response to Russia’s attempts to interfere in our elections and other hostile actions, we have a number of concerns about the agreement that the US has reached,” the Democrats wrote in a letter requesting a detailed response by Friday.
The Treasury Department announced on Dec. 19 its intention to remove sanctions on United Co. Rusal, the world’s second-largest aluminum company, as well as EN+ Group Plc and EuroSibEnergo JSC. Mnuchin said the companies “have committed to significantly diminish Deripaska’s ownership and sever his control.” The move is to take effect 30 days later from the announcement unless Congress blocks it.
Deripaska will personally remain under American sanctions imposed in April on associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin over Moscow’s interference in the 2016 US presidential election.
But the Democratic lawmakers asked Mnuchin to hold off on terminating the sanctions “to allow sufficient time for you to fully brief members on this matter and to resolve the pending questions.”
They wrote that the agreement “appears to keep intact significant ownership of EN+ by Mr. Deripaska, while reportedly transferring some shares and financial interests to the Kremlin-linked sanctioned Russian bank VTB.”
The chairmen also requested that Mnuchin himself “be available for a meeting with all interested, members, in an appropriate setting to allow for a full discussion of all aspects of the agreement, the sanctions termination, and the impact that these decisions would have on the US effort to end Russia’s malign activities aimed at our country.”
The letter was signed by Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal of Massachusetts; Financial Services Chairman Maxine Waters of California; Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel of New York; Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff of California; Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings of Maryland; Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler of New York; and Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson of Mississippi.
Last week, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer introduced a resolution to allow for the potential disapproval of the Treasury decision to lift the sanctions against the three companies.