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Russian oligarch Deripaska loses U.S. court battle to lift sanctions

March 29 (Reuters) – A U.S. appeals court in Washington on Tuesday rejected a bid by Russian aluminum tycoon Oleg Deripaska to lift sanctions imposed on him by the United States in 2018, finding that American officials had sufficient evidence to back up their action.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled against Deripaska’s appeal of a federal judge’s ruling last year dismissing the oligarch’s lawsuit challenging the sanctions. U.S. District Court Judge Amit Mehta had ruled that Deripaska’s numerous claims in the lawsuit lacked merit.

The U.S. government imposed the sanctions against Deripaska and other influential Russians with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin in response to Russia’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region – an action the United States does not recognize – and other “worldwide malign activity.”

Deripaska is not among the Russians who have faced sanctions relating to Russia’s invasion last month of Ukraine.

The U.S. Treasury Department, in pursuing the sanctions against Deripaska, accused him of acting on behalf of a senior Russian government official.

Deripaska, in his lawsuit, had claimed that the U.S. sanctions against him were arbitrary, an argument rejected by the D.C. Circuit.

“In short, there is no evidence that the government acted for reasons other than those it provided, much less that its stated reasons were contrived,” the court wrote in Tuesday’s decision.

Russian tycoon Oleg Deripaska attends a session of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) in Saint Petersburg, Russia, June 3, 2021. REUTERS/Evgenia Novozhenina

The D.C. Circuit also concluded that the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control “had sufficient evidence for sanctions” against Deripaska.

A lawyer for Deripaska did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Deripaska once employed Paul Manafort, who served as former President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign chairman and was convicted in 2018 on tax evasion and bank fraud charges. Trump pardoned Manafort in 2020. A Republican-led Senate committee said in a 2020 report that Manafort collaborated with Russians including Deripaska throughout the course of the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Deripaska owns part of aluminum giant Rusal (RUAL.MM) through a stake in its parent company En+ Group (ENPLI.RTS). The United States dropped sanctions against those companies in 2019 during Trump’s presidency.

The FBI last year raided Deripaska’s homes in New York and Washington, giving no explanation for the searches at the time.

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