OLEG Deripaska, the Russian billionaire owner of Aughinish Alumina in Askeaton has handed over control of his company in bid to ease pressure from trade sanctions imposed by the US Treasury Department.
The sanctions, imposed on a number of Russian industrialists who the US claimed were aligned to the Kremlin and profiting “malign activities”, had posed a serious threat to the 650 jobs at the County Limerick plant
After several rolling extensions to the imposition of sanctions were granted by the US authorities, Mr Deripaska finally relinquished control of En+ Group, the parent firm of Rusal which owns and operates the Aughinish plant.
The company said that the move was made as part of a larger initiative, known as the Barker Plan which was established after the Trump administration imposed the trade sanctions.
“These management changes are consistent with the Barker Plan and the enhanced governance structures it will introduce,” the company said in its statement last Friday.
“The Company continues to focus on and prepare for the implementation of the Barker Plan … and will make further announcements as soon as possible,” the statement added.
Apart from the serious threat to the jobs at Aughinish, Rusal has experienced significant challenges and disruptions to its day-to-day functioning,
The firm continued to experience difficulties in trading with suppliers and customers.
Last week, a spokesperson for Rusal confirmed that the OFAC sanctions were threatening the “going concern” status of the Aughinish refinery.
Following last Friday’s announcement, management at the Limerick plant, along with the Irish government officials, will now petition the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control to remove Aughinish Alumina from the list of companies targeted for sanctions.