Congressional Democrats have increased their pressure on Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to provide details about his ties to Ukrainian billionaire Len Blavantnik as well as the Trump administration’s decision to remove sanctions on three Russian firms tied to billionaire oligarch Oleg Deripaska.
On Tuesday, Democratic lawmakers from both chambers of Congress sent four letters to the Treasury secretary requesting further details on the Department’s decision to rescind sanctions on aluminum giant Rusal, EN+ Group and JSC EuroSibEnergo as possible conflicts of interest.
Chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee Elijah Cummings and Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, wrote to Mnuchin to inquire how he managed his own potential personal and professional conflicts of interest with Blavatnik, a major Rusal shareholder and an associate of Deripaska’s.
Another letter by California lawmaker Jackie Speier sought information about a deal Mnuchin reportedly struck in 2017 with the Ukrainian billionaire. The letter claims that Blavatnik co-owns aluminum company Sual Partners and Sual “is a major shareholder” of Rusal, one of Deripaska’s sanctioned companies. It also notes that Blavatnik formerly served on Rusal’s board and that one of his companies donated $1 million to Trump’s inaugural fund.
The Treasury Department denied Mnuchin had any direct business relations with Blavatnik, saying on Twitter that Speier’s “concerns are premised on false information.”
In yet another letter sent by Democrats, they ask for a detailed accounting of the decision to lift sanctions on the Russian companies, saying that “the terms of removal are unusual and many questions remain unanswered.”
Democrats have criticized the deal, arguing in their letter that Deripaska still retains “significant influence, if not de facto control, over En+, Rusal and ESE” through his associates and family members.
According to the New York Times, a binding confidential document signed by the Trump administration and Deripaska suggests that the agreement the administration negotiated with the companies controlled by the oligarch may have been less punitive than advertised.
The deal contains provisions that free him 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.