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'Positive news': US sanctions affecting Limerick company Aughinish Alumina lifted

Limerick-based Aughinish Alumina employs over 400 staff and supports hundreds of indirect jobs in the area.

Oleg Deripaska
Oleg Deripaska
Image: NurPhoto/SIPA USA/PA Images

THE SANCTIONS AGAINST the Russian parent company of Limerick manufacturing firm Aughinish Alumina have been lifted. 

The US had previously imposed sanctions on companies it said was linked to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripraska. Included on this list was manufacturing giant Rusal, the parent company of Aughinish Alumina.

The Limerick-based company employs over 400 staff and also supports hundreds of indirect jobs in the area. Irish officials had been lobbying US officials to lift the sanctions which affected the firm since last April.

In December, the US Treasury said it would lift the sanctions, with Rusal agreeing to reduce the stake in it owned by Deripraska.

Democrats, however, attempted to block the lifting of these sanctions in the Senate on 16 January. They needed 60 votes and, despite the support of 11 Republicans, but only got 57.

The US Treasury yesterday announced that it was lifting the sanctions. 

In its brief statement, Treasury said that Rusal and the other two companies, En+ Group and EuroSiobEnergo had severed Derapaska’s control.

“This action ensures that the majority of directors on the En+ and Rusal boards will be independent directors … who have no business, professional or family ties to Deripaska,” Treasury said.

The statement also said that the companies had agreed to “unprecedented transparency for Treasury into their operations by undertaking extensive, ongoing auditing, certification and reporting requirements.”

The easing of sanctions has been hailed as good news here in Ireland as it protects employees of Aughinish Alumina.

“As I have made clear before, the government has always fully understood the rationale behind these US sanctions. We share the view that unacceptable actions by the Russian regime, and those connected to it, should not go unpunished,” Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said.

At the same time, we have been determined that legitimate measures taken by the US authorities do not cause inadvertent damage to Irish companies like Aughinish Alumina.

“We have therefore worked hard, principally through our Embassy in Washington, with the US Administration towards an outcome that would protect jobs sustained and supported by the company in Limerick and across the midwest,” Coveney said.

He added that “while today’s confirmation means that that outcome has been secured, we will continue engaging with the US authorities, and with our EU partners, to help avoid such a scenario arising again in the future”.

Minister for Business Heather Humphreys said: “The confirmation today that Aughinish Alumina is no longer directly impacted by the US sanctions imposed in April 2018 is positive news for the company, its hard-working employees and the midwest region as a whole. 

“The firm can now focus again, instead, on its core business and future growth.” 

With reporting by Sean Murray and Associated Press

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