Thursday 21 November 2019

Aughinish oligarch rejects links to Manafort as US seeks London data

Aughinish Alumina refinery on the Shannon estuary
Aughinish Alumina refinery on the Shannon estuary
Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska, whose global aluminium empire included Aughinish Alumina until last year, says US prosecutors' efforts to gain access to records seized from a UK company linked to him are motivated by American political "infighting".

Irish authorities battled last year in Washington DC to have the giant Aughinish Alumina plant in Limerick excluded from a US sanctions list, after its parent Rusal was made the subject of controls. The restrictions were lifted after Mr Deripaska slashed his control of Rusal.

This week, it emerged that British authorities had raided a storage unit last December owned by Terra Services Ltd, a real estate firm that until last year was controlled by Mr Deripaska, as part of a possible offshoot of the Mueller investigation into Russian election interference.

The aluminium magnate's business dealings with convicted former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort were a subject of Mr Mueller's inquiry.

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Terra Services is challenging the lawfulness of the search warrant, which seized at least 25,000 electronic documents, and has asked a London judge to prevent the documents from being handed over to the US.

"The Terra raid that happened around a year ago and the recent publicity in relation to it is yet another hopeless attempt to drag me into never-ending US political infighting," Mr Deripaska said in a written statement yesterday.

"Washington bureaucrats are desperate to link me to Manafort, who I haven't dealt with for years as I have repeatedly stated. They are chasing a ghost."

US authorities are seeking evidence of "money laundering, tax offences and fraud offences" from 18 individuals and companies including Terra Services, Bloomberg News reported last Friday, citing documents filed in a London court.

Additional reporting Bloomberg

Irish Independent

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