Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Treasury Department in a Washington court, alleging the sanctions against him are illegal, Bloomberg reported. The powerful tycoon with close ties to the Kremlin, who was placed on a U.S. sanctions list last April, is claiming the measures have cost him $7.5 billion. The Bloomberg Billionaires Index estimates his net worth at $3.9 billion, after dropping $5.8 billion last year, the most among Russia’s ultra-wealthy.
Deripaska names Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Andrea Gacki, who leads the Treasury’s sanctions unit OFAC, in his suit filed on Friday.
According to Russia Business Today, the oligarch claims he has been unfairly swept up in a “general hysteria” because of unfounded allegations spread by members of U.S. Congress and others amid Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible collusion between Russia and the presidential campaign of Donald Trump.
A Treasury spokesman declined to comment and referred news agencies to the Justice Department, which also declined to comment.
The Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) alleged that Deripaska and other Russian oligarchs were profiting off their links to Russian President Vladimir Putin and from Moscow’s “malign activity” around the globe.
But, given Rusal’s size and importance, the sanctions roiled global metals markets, unnerving businesses in the United States and Europe.
The U.S. administration later reached a deal with the three Russian firms to end Deripaska’s control in return for a lifting of sanctions, forcing the oligarch to divest much of his holdings.
Michael Dobson, a former senior OFAC official who dealt with Russia sanctions before leaving the agency, called the suit an “annoyance claim” that was unlikely to be successful.
“Ultimately I don’t really think this case is going to go far,” Dobson, who is now with the Morrison & Foerster law firm, told AFP news agency.