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U.S. House Passes Empty Resolution To Stop Easing Of Deripaska Sanctions

Sanctions will remain in place on Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska, while being eased on his companies: Rusal, En+, and EuroSibEnergo. (file photo)

Lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives have passed a resolution to stop sanctions on companies linked to Russian tycoon Oleg Deripaska from being lifted.

The January 17 vote was mainly symbolic given a similar measure failed to be approved by the Senate a day earlier. President Donald Trump, whose administration had lobbied lawmakers hard to not pass the measure, may act on lifting the sanctions as early as January 18.

The Democrat-dominated House voted 362-53 in favor of the resolution, which came in response to last month's announcement by the Treasury Department that it would lift sanctions on the core businesses of Deripaska. That includes aluminum giant Rusal, its parent company En+, and power firm EuroSibEnergo.

"We are dealing with the enemy. We are in an investigation," Maxine Waters, chairwoman of the House Committee on Financial Services, said before the vote.

The sanctions were initially imposed in April, but they roiled global metals markets, unnerving businesses in the United States and Europe; Rusal is one of the world's largest aluminum producers.

While the resolution was pushed by House Democrats, some representatives from Trump's Republican party joined in the effort, a sign of how many congressional lawmakers feel about Trump's Russia policy.

"Today I voted to reinstate sanctions on certain Russian companies. I am not convinced that they have met the necessary requirements," House Intelligence Committee Republican Chris Stewart posted on Twitter.

"I disagree with the President. The sanctions must remain in place."

Deripaska, who is widely believed to have close ties to the Kremlin, has agreed to pare back his controlling stakes in the companies. He himself remains subject to U.S. sanctions.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin last week testified before a House committee about the effort to lift the sanctions, telling lawmakers that the Trump administration would keep watch over the companies.

In addition to his ties to the Kremlin, Deripaska also was a former business partner of Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman.

With reporting by Reuters and AFP
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