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January 21, 2019

The sanctions agreement reached by the Trump administration and Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska actually appears to benefit Deripaska, The New York Times reports.

Last April, the Treasury Department announced sanctions against Deripaska — a onetime business associate of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort — and three of his companies, as well as six other Russian oligarchs and their companies; Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the sanctions were in response to "a range of malign activity around the globe." In December, Mnuchin said the Treasury Department reached an agreement to lift the sanctions on three companies controlled by Deripaska: The aluminum company Rusal; EN+, the holding company that owns Rusal; and EuroSibEnergo.

As part of the deal, Mnuchin said, the companies had to "significantly diminish Deripaska's ownership and sever his control." But the Times reviewed a confidential document, signed by a Treasury official and representatives of Deripaska's companies, which shows that under the deal, he will have the opportunity to wipe out hundreds of millions of dollars in debt by transferring some of his shares to the Russian government-owned bank VTB, which has lent him a substantial amount of money. At the same time, Deripaska's allies — who are also close to the Kremlin — will still have major stakes in his companies.

In a statement, the Treasury Department said Deripaska's companies have "committed to provide Treasury with an unprecedented level of transparency into their dealings to ensure that Deripaska does not reassert control." The Times reports that privately, Deripaska associates are happy with the agreement, and after the deal was announced, share prices of Rusal and EN+ went up, boosting Deripaska's portfolios. For more of the details in the agreement, visit The New York Times. Catherine Garcia

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