Russian tycoon Oleg Deripaska is stepping down as the head of Russia's Rusal aluminum empire, weeks after he appeared on a U.S. list of tycoons said to benefit from their ties with the Kremlin.
Rusal and its parent company EN+ Group announced Deripaska's departure and other management changes early on February 23, saying they "would ensure additional synergy of the metallurgic and energy segments" of the company's business.
The company did not mention an investigative report recently published by Russian opposition leader and anticorruption crusader Aleksei Navalny that said that Deripaska hosted Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Prikhodko for a lavish stay on his yacht.
The Navalny report on February 8, which was based on social media posts and photos provided by a woman who claimed to have had an affair with Deripaska, said the meeting was part of a growing body of evidence of corruption in Kremlin circles.
Deripaska denied committing any “unlawful actions” and warned media outlets not to disseminate "these mendacious accusations" in the Navalny report. Russia's mass-media regulator Rozkomnadzor later moved to block publication of the report online.
Deripaska was also one of 96 Russian tycoons listed by the U.S. Treasury Department on January 30 as having gained wealth and power through close association with President Vladimir Putin.
The Treasury Department has said it will impose sanctions on some wealthy Russians in the near future.
Before Deripaska's announced resignation, the Russian business daily Kommersant cited his appearance on the Treasury's "Kremlin list" as a reason for why he was planning to quit his Rusal post.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters earlier this week that he was doubtful Deripaska would leave because he appeared on the "Kremlin list," but Peskov did not deny Kommersant's report that the well-connected tycoon was planning to step down.