Feds impose sanctions on Russian oligarchs with Australian business interests

Both Oleg Deripaska and Viktor Vekselberg have a stake in an alumina refinery in Queensland, while Mr Vekselberg also has a stake in a gas project in the Beetaloo Basin in the Northern Territory.

The pair were not among 41 oligarchs and family members slapped with sanctions by Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on Monday.


But an update to Australia’s consolidated sanctions list, published on Friday, shows Mr Deripaska and Mr Vekselberg have been added.

The change came after questions from the media about why the oligarchs had not previously been included in Australia’s sanctions response, since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began on February 24. .

The sanctions mean that Russian billionaires will have their access to assets in Australia frozen, will be prevented from engaging in business activities here and will also face travel bans.

Last week, the British government sanctioned Mr. Deripaska and Mr. Vekselberg on March 10 and 15, respectively.

Mr. Deripaska and Mr. Vekselberg had both previously been sanctioned by the United States in April 2018, including for the Russian invasion of Crimea in 2014.

The Australasian Center for Corporate Accountability (ACCR) first raised concerns about the two billionaires in a February 28 statement calling for their punishment.


Dan Gocher, director of climate and environment at the ACCR, welcomed the sanctions against the pair but wondered “why the government has been slower to act” than the United States and Britain.

“Alumina exports from Queensland to Russia must be stopped immediately, to avoid the possibility of Australian alumina being used in the manufacture of munitions,” he said.

Mr. Deripaska founded the En+ group, which owns 20% of Queensland Alumina Ltd, the operator of a plant in Gladstone which refines bauxite into alumina.

Viktor Vekselberg

Russian billionaire and businessman Viktor Vekselberg at the 24th International Economic Congress in St. Petersburg on June 3, 2021. Credit: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

It previously controlled En+, but reduced its stake to 45%, after being hit with US sanctions in 2018.

The En+ group holds a 56.9% stake in Rusal International PJSC, which controls the stake in the Queensland refinery.

Mr. Vekelsberg also owns around 32.2% of Rusal International, through subsidiaries that also link him to the Gladstone refinery.


It also owns around 16% of Falcon Oil and Gas Ltd through subsidiary Lamesa Group Holding SA, which is a joint venture partner in the Beetaloo Basin.

Falcon Oil and Gas Ltd owns 22.5% of this project and Origin Energy owns a 77.5% interest.

The Morrison government said it imposed sanctions on more than 450 people and entities since the start of the Russian invasion.

It also includes military commanders and political figures, including President Vladimir Putin, the Central Bank of Russia and several Russian banks.

On Friday, the federal government also imposed sanctions on 11 other Russian banks and government entities.

He said the majority of the country’s banking assets were now covered by sanctions.


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