THE CONTROLLING owner of the parent company of Aughinish Alumina, Oleg Deripaska, has officially resigned from his role as non-executive director at Rusal.
It is not yet clear if he plans to divest his shares in the company to avoid sanctions. After the US measures were announced in April, the US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that the company could avoid the sanctions if Deripaska relinquished his control over the company and brought his shares to below 50 percent.
In a statement announcing Deripaska’s resignation, Rusal warned that the sanctions’ impact may still be “materially adverse” to the company.
On Thursday, Rusal’s CEO and seven of its other directors also resigned from their positions.
Rusal warned that, because of the fallout from the US sanctions, it may have problems servicing its debts and keeping operations going past October.
The US sanctions and the global fallout from the diplomatic tensions between Russia and the west, have pulled Askeaton’s Aughinish Alumina plant into uncertainty. Since the saga began, there have been fears for up to 1,000 jobs in West Limerick, both through direct and indirect employment.
Announced on April 6, the sanctions were a response to what the US believes is Russia’s “malign activity” around the globe.
They targeted a number of Russian oligarchs, who the US said had profited from Russia’s regime, and their companies - but the sanctions appeared to target, in particular, energy tycoon Deripaska.
Rusal owner Oleg Deripaska has famously been linked in the past to president of Russia, Vladimir Putin. He is also a person of interest in the US investigation into Russian collusion in the Trump presidential campaign.
By making these changes, the company is attempting to convince the US Treasury to roll back the sanctions, under a plan that would reduce Deripaska’s control of the company.
Mr Deripaska previously resigned from the board of EN+, his company through which he owns a stake in Rusal.
In order to take up the US deal and avoid sanctions, Deripaska’s shareholding in EN+ would need to be reduced to below 50 percent, and a majority new board of independent directors would also need to be appointed.
The US has given American customers and suppliers of the company until October 23, to wind down business with Rusal.