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Wednesday, news broke that the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) had decided to remove from its sanctions list companies controlled by Oleg Deripaska -- AKA Putin's favorite oligarch, who also moonlights as a Daily Caller mommyblogger. (Remember, Paul Manafort wanted to use his role as chair of the Trump campaign to "get whole" with Deripaska, who's not the kind of Russian oligarch you want to steal $20 million from. Wonder what that meant!)

At first when we saw this news, we thought "THE FUCK?" But upon closer reading of the news reporting, we noted that Deripaska and all his personal money and property were remaining sanctioned, and that the companies were coming off the list in exchange for Deripaska giving up his controlling stakes in them. So ... maybe it's not that bad? Are the companies the point of the sanctions, or is the point to punish these Putin-aligned oligarchs personally?

But then we read beyond the news reporting and guess what, there is some fucked up shit happening right in front of our faces!


Let's get some proper names out of the way so we all understand them. En+ Group ("En+") is Oleg Deripaska's company. It has a controlling interest in Russian aluminum behemoth United Company RUSAL ("Rusal"), and it also owns Russian power company EuroSibEnergo ("ESE"). So basically Deripaska owns or controls all these things, directly or indirectly, and they are all listed in Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin's letter to Mitch McConnell announcing that they are all going off their US-imposed sanctions diet, which was put into place in April of 2018 to punish Deripaska and a bunch of other oligarchs for Russia's "malign activities" around the globe, including its interference in the 2016 election, shhhhh don't tell Trump.

Mnuchin states in his letter that these companies really weren't the point of the sanctions, but that they ended up on the list because they were Deripaska's cash cows. So no harm, no foul, right? Deripaska's giving up a bunch of shit, his ownership stake in En+ will go below 50% to keep it free from the controlling influence of a dirty "Kremlin insider," he remains personally sanctioned, and a very Merry Christmas was had by all?

Except, wait ... where are those ownership stakes in En+, Rusal and ESE going? Well shit, they were hoping you wouldn't ask!

We will let Jed Shugerman, Fordham University law professor and TV expert on this kinda shit, explain Mnuchin's letter to you, in plain English:

WOW. They're not even hiding it. They are, rather, just assuming average people aren't digging into letters from OFAC and reading the fine print and then cross-referencing it with Wonkette's coverage of the Russia scandal since its inception.

VTB ... Glencore ... VTB ... Glencore ... WHY DO THESE NAMES SOUND FAMILIAR?

As Shugerman noted above, VTB is sanctioned as fuck over Russia's illegal invasion of Crimea. It is majority controlled by the Kremlin, and it is indeed the shady bank that was theoretically going to finance the Moscow Trump Tower Project, the one Trump and Michael Cohen were negotiating while Trump lied about it on the campaign trail. So they're giving a bunch of Deripaska's shares of En+ to ... another gigantic sanctioned-as-fuck state-owned Russian bank? Cool story.

And then there's Glencore, the largest mining company in the world, based in Switzerland, which seems to have a REALLY bad problem with money laundering and running afoul of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). And some people think maybe Glencore might have just possibly been involved in laundering some money from Russia to Donald Trump!

Back in December of 2016, Glencore and the Qatari sovereign wealth fund bought a 19.5 percent stake in Russian oil giant Rosneft. Soon afterward, Glencore and Qatar sold some of that stake right back to Russia, because they only bought all that Rosneft because Russia was feelin' kinda broke that day. This sale was prophesied discussed in the DODGY DOSSIER, which said Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page had traveled to Russia in July 2016 to meet with Putin's buddy Igor Sechin, the head of Rosneft, to talk about how America and Russia could really make a lot more energy/natural resources sexxxytime together if America would just remove those goshdarn fuckin' sanctions.

Indeed, the dossier alleges that Sechin offered Page/Trump a bribe that if they would just remove those goshdarn fuckin' sanctions, they could have a big stake in Rosneft. How big? Oh, just 19 percent. Weird, right?

We have asked many times over the past couple years why Republicans have been so hellbent on protecting that loon-ass Carter Page from the Russia investigation. Maybe this is part of why.

So that sale, again, happened in December 2016. AND THEN THE MURDERS BEGAN.

OK not really (we mean besides Putin's regular murders on the day-to-day), but just after that, shit got weird. You see, also in December 2016, once Glencore and Qatar owned all that Rosneft, Ahmed Al-Ruhaimi, who headed up the Qatar Investment Authority (part of Qatar's sovereign wealth fund) showed up at a meeting in Trump Tower with two of Robert Mueller's rat flippers, Michael Cohen and Michael Flynn. Was that related to the Rosneft sale and Russian bribes? Dunno!

(Al-Ruhaimi's a weird character in this story. He has bragged about having Flynn in his back pocket, and he is also the one who tried to sponsor Steve Bannon's political ambitions and thereby gain influence in the Trump administration by ... investing in Ice Cube's 3-on-3 basketball league, because Ice Cube's business partner Jeff Kwatinetz was also super tight with Bannon. Yep, we just checked, and everything in the world is still very stupid!)

It kept getting weirder after that, with Qatar offering to bail out the Kushner companies, then rescinding that offer, and Qatar offering to help out with the Mueller investigation, and then rescinding that offer, and Qatar suddenly being in big trouble mister with the Houses of Trump and Saud (blockaded by the Saudis, accused of being a state sponsor of terrorism by Trump) for reasons still completely unexplained. Click here to refresh yourself if you'd like.

The point is that Glencore, the Swiss mining giant with the (alleged!) money laundering problem that bought a stake in Rosneft that sounds a hell of a lot like the stake in Rosneft that was (allegedly!) offered to Trump people as a bribe for lifting sanctions, now will get SWEET DELICIOUS GOODIES from the Treasury Department as part of a deal that involves ... lifting sanctions! And VTB Bank will get some treats in its Christmas stocking too!

Hey, remember that mysterious case in the DC federal courts where "CORPORATION" owned by "COUNTRY A" is resisting subpoenas from the Robert Mueller investigation? Wonder if this is in any way related, because that would be a hell of a coincidence.

Point is, it's all about the sanctions. It's always been about the sanctions. And what do these motherfuckers lie about when you ask them about it, besides everything? The sanctions.

Any way you slice it, this looks like a NICE pay-off for the Russians, because we may have mentioned they're so obsessed with getting sanctions lifted that they're willing to steal an American election and install an orange dipshit puppet just to get that done. (You know, allegedly.)

As former ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul pointed out, this is yet another win for Vladimir Putin, who appears to be the only person Trump was speaking to on the campaign trail when he said you're going to win so much you'll get tired of winning. Did Uncle Vlad know he'd be getting TWO Christmas presents from Trump IN ONE DAY? (We're talking about the Syria thing.)

Can't wait for Christmas morning, when Trump really puts out!

[Mnuchin letter]

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Evan Hurst

Evan Hurst is the senior editor of Wonkette, which means he is the boss of you, unless you are Rebecca, who is boss of him. His dog Lula is judging you right now.

Follow him on Twitter RIGHT HERE.

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