Trump Admin's Sloppy Wet Sanctions Kiss For Oleg Deripaska Sloppier, Wetter Than We Knew!
There is very surprising news about the Trump Treasury Department's decision to lift sanctions on companies controlled by Russian oligarch/former Paul Manafort boss/likely election ratfucker Oleg Deripaska, a move all Democrats except Bernie Sanders hated, along with a surprising number of Republicans in Nancy Pelosi's House and 11 Republicans in the Senate. While we already knew that it was pretty good for Deripaska in an incognito kind of way, you'll be shocked to learn that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin's big wet kiss for Deripaska is even wetter and more XXX than previously understood!
The New York Times got its paws on a "binding confidential agreement signed by both sides" that suggests Deripaska got off sweet in this deal. Seriously, are you VERY SHOCKED right now?
First, though, a quick review!
We already knew that as a part of this deal, Deripaska was agreeing to divest himself of his majority controlling ownership stake in his corporation En+, which controls a handful of companies, including Russian aluminum giant RUSAL. He didn't have to divest all his ownership, just enough to get him down below 50 percent. Those shares would be transferred over to an assortment of entities, including VTB Bank, the Russian state-owned bank that's under sanctions for the illegal Russian invasion and seizure of Crimea, and also Glencore, the Swiss company that worked with the government of Qatar to buy Russian oil giant Rosneft, then sold it right back to Russia, just after the US election. (Weird deal! It was alluded to in the Steele Dossier, as a possible bribe to Trump people! Somehow!) VTB Bank is also the entity that in theory might have financed the Trump Tower Moscow project, the one Michael Cohen lied to Congress about, and which the Trumps were negotiating apparently throughout the 2016 campaign. (This all confusing? Yes, but click here to catch up if you need to, after which point you will immediately forget all these proper names again.)
Deripaska was also sanctioned personally, and those sanctions remain in place, but the point of the sanctions wasn't really specifically to hurt him, but rather to hurt Vladimir Putin. Deripaska is his favorite oligarch, and Putin stashes his gabillions of dollars inside a bunch of Russian corporations and inside a coterie of oligarchs' butts, so Deripaska was obviously on the sanctions list. (And we don't know the extent of how yet, but we are pretty sure Deripaska had some sort of key role in the 2016 American election fuckery.) So we already knew that with this shuffling of sanctions, Putin made off like a bandit. Considering that these sanctions were levied as punishment for Russian interference in the 2016 election -- and the ones against Deripaska's companies were never implemented in the first place! -- we guess the Trump administration is just pretty sure Putin has learned its lesson, and will never ever do it again.
Now, the new stuff!
We quote the New York Times:
The deal contains provisions that free [Deripaska] from hundreds of millions of dollars in debt while leaving him and his allies with majority ownership of his most important company, the document shows. [...]
It shows that the sanctions relief deal will allow Mr. Deripaska to wipe out potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in debt by transferring some of his shares to VTB, a Russian government-owned bank under limited United States sanctions that had lent him large sums of money.
The confidential document, titled "Terms of Removal," also shows that the agreement would leave allies of Mr. Deripaska and the Kremlin with significant stakes in his companies.
Awwww, how nice! And strangely right in line with Wonkette's analysis from weeks ago! (Wonkette = smart.) We didn't know about the part about Oleg Deripaska getting out from under "hundreds of millions of dollars in debt," though. That seems like a nice bonus! (It is debt he owes to VTB bank.)
On top of shares of RUSAL being transferred to VTB and Glencore, the document says some other shares will go to a "charitable foundation" called Volnoe Delo, which is Deripaska's "charity." You'll pardon us for imagining it does "charity" about as well as the Trump Foundation did "charity," before the state of New York shut it down. Everybody involved in the deal swears that Oleg Deripaska won't be able to access any of the money he makes from transferring all these shares, and we are sure he would never think of using his "charity" as a personal ATM. And the deal says he won't be able to! But still.
Oh, and that part about how "allies of Mr. Deripaska and the Kremlin" would still have "significant stakes" in his companies? Well, it turns out that as part of this whole plan for divvying up En+, another Russian oligarch, Viktor Vekselberg, ends up getting to keep a significant share of RUSAL, through a company called SUAL Partners Limited. You've met Vekselberg before, because he mysteriously caused BIG MONEYS to be deposited in Michael Cohen's porn payoff slush fund "within approximately 75 days" of when Cohen made the porn payoff to Stormy Daniels, more than enough for it to be a possible reimbursement, or for it to be a bribe/kickback/just the tip of another sort. Click here to go down that rabbithole, but the short version is that Vekselberg shows up everywhere in the Trump-Russia story (EVERYWHERE), and he's on the sanctions list too. (EVERYWHERE. He shows up EVERYWHERE. You really need to click that link we just gave you.)
One more thing: It turns out that, according to the document the Times reviewed, when you add up the stakes Deripaska gets to keep, the ones that go to his "charity," and the ones that go to Deripaska's ex-wife and her dad, you end up with 57% control over En+. So depending on what kind of relationship Deripaska has with his ex-wife, he might still be top dog at En+ after all!
Did we mention that RUSAL stock has been doing a lot better since the Treasury Department decided to pull this shit?
The goal of US sanctions is to change Putin behavior or punish Putin. OFAC did not advance either goal by lifting s… https://t.co/uDZttRlJr5— Michael McFaul (@Michael McFaul) 1545290143.0
Yay! So many Russian oligarchs (Putin) and Russian banks (Putin) getting richer right now! Thanks Donald Trump, thanks Steven Mnuchin, maybe this "buy an American election" thing really was a good investment!
As the Times notes, this confidential agreement suggests either that the rimjob the Trump administration just gave Putin, the Kremlin, and Deripaska was intentional, or the Trump administration is full of really smart Art Of The Deal-ers who just got scammed by the influence campaign Deripaska's companies mounted to lobby against the sanctions. Stupid or evil? STUPID OR EVIL? Usually, with Trump people, the answer is "yes."
The Treasury Department is insisting that this deal IS TOO EITHER a good deal, that Deripaska definitely isn't the winner here, and that if the Russians don't hold up their side of the bargain, they'll definitely get punished some more. And yet ...
Yet Mr. Deripaska's associates have privately expressed satisfaction with the deal.
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