Ukraine War

Russian billionaires with mining industry links sanctioned by the Australian government

Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting with members of the Security Council via a video link at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow on March 3, 2022. (Photo: Reuters)

Australia sanctioned two Russian oligarchs with ties to the country's mining industry on Friday. One is a billionaire with a stake in Rio Tinto's Gladstone alumina refinery joint venture.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne said Australia collaborated closely with international allies to ratchet up sanctions pressure on oligarchs associated with Russian President Vladimir Putin over the Ukraine invasion.

"With the addition of Oleg Deripaska and Viktor Vekselberg, Australia now has two billionaires with ties to Australian business interests," Payne said.

She explained that the penalties are in addition to those currently in place against 41 oligarchs and their immediate family members, who face targeted financial sanctions and travel bans.

Payne stated that the government applauded Australian businesses for taking a principled position by severing relations with Russia, "protesting Moscow's illegal, indefensible war against Ukraine."

Russia claims to be conducting "a special military operation" to prevent the Ukrainian government from committing "genocide" – an allegation dismissed by the West.

Vekselberg is a Russian energy investor who owns a firm collaborating with Origin Energy on a gas project in the Northern Territory's Beetaloo Basin.

Origin stated that it sought clarification from the Australian government regarding the sanctions and informed Reuters that the Beetaloo Basin project was not a producing asset and generated no revenue.

"Origin reiterates that it is appalled by the Russian invasion of Ukraine and will comply with all Australian rules and laws," the company stated in a statement.

Vekselberg was a minority shareholder in Lamesa Holdings, the parent firm of Origin's junior partner in the Beetaloo Basin.

"Neither Lamesa Holdings nor Mr. Vekselberg are joint venture partners in the Beetaloo Basin. They have no connection, dealings, or ties to Origin or the Beetaloo Basin joint venture," the statement stated.

Significant Anglo-

Rio Tinto, a mining company, based in Australia, did not immediately react to a request for comment on the sanctions' impact on Deripaska, who owns 44.9 percent of EN+ Group, a Russian aluminum and power conglomerate.

EN+ Group is the largest shareholder in Rusal, a Russian business with a 20% stake in the Queensland Alumina Limited (QAL) refinery in Gladstone through a joint venture with Rio Tinto.

Rio Tinto previously announced it was terminating relations with Rusal as part of its overall disengagement from Russia.

Queensland Alumina Ltd declined to reply when contacted for comment.

Deripaska cut his controlling interest in EN+ Group from 70% to 40% in 2019 to avoid further US penalties against the world's largest aluminum producer.

Publish : 2022-03-18 12:22:00

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