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Ruble drops; Russian oligarchs lose $16 billion after Trump sanctions

Russia's President Vladimir Putin (left) and Rusal CEO Oleg Deripaska attend the APEC CEO Summit, as part of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in November 2014 in Beijing, China. Deripaska and Rusal have both been hit by the latest round of sanctions imposed by the United States. (2014 file photo/Wang Zhao-Pool/Getty Imgaes)

The latest round of sanctions imposed on Russia by the Trump administration seem to be having a noticeable impact on the wallets of oligarchs in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle. The value of the Russian ruble has dropped by at least 2 percent, and the targeted oligarchs have reportedly lost roughly $16 billion.

On Friday, the U.S. Treasury Department announced that it would be imposing sanctions on 38 Russian individuals and entities, including 17 members of the Russian government. In a news release, the Treasury Department said that the sanctions were in response to Russian actions in Ukraine, its support of the Assad regime, and cybercrime.

On Monday, a spokesperson for Putin called the latest round of sanctions “egregious in its lawlessness” and promised that the Russian government would “work out steps to correct the situation, for the maximum possible correction.”

The sanctions specifically targeted seven oligarchs who made their fortunes buying state-owned businesses from the government when the Soviet Union fell apart, and 12 companies owned or controlled by these oligarchs. Now those same oligarchs are feeling the pressure from those sanctions.

In the Hong Kong stock exchange, shares of Rusal, a Russian aluminum producing company controlled by Oleg Deripaska, fell 50 percent — a loss of nearly $4.5 billion. Both Rusal and Deripaska have been targeted by the sanctions.

According to the Treasury Department news release on Friday, “Deripaska has been investigated for money laundering, and has been accused of threatening the lives of business rivals, illegally wiretapping a government official, and taking part in extortion and racketeering.  There are also allegations that Deripaska bribed a government official, ordered the murder of a businessman, and had links to a Russian organized crime group.”

Deripaska also had close ties to former Trump campaign adviser Paul Manafort.

The news release also said that Rusal is “responsible for 7 percent of global aluminum production.”

The losses have not been limited to those mentioned in the sanctions. Oleg Tinkov, founder and chair of Tinkoff Bank, said he lost $250 million in one day after the sanctions took effect.

"But there have been worse days. I remember I lost a billion in a day. So, actually, it was a very positive day,” Tinkov said. Neither Tinkov nor Tinkoff bank were mentioned in the sanctions.

One last thing…
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