Federal appeals court rejects Russian oligarch bid to lift US sanctions
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Federal appeals court rejects Russian oligarch bid to lift US sanctions

The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Tuesday rejected Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska’s appeal to lift sanctions imposed on him by the US in 2018. The court found that officials had sufficient evidence to support their decision to impose sanctions.

In 2018, the US sanctioned both Deripaska and another billionaire, Viktor Vekselberg, for their involvement in the 2014 Russian Crimean invasion. The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) imposed sanctions on both individuals under executive orders issued by President Obama in 2014.

Deripaska filed suit, claiming that the OFAC unlawfully placed him under sanction. A district court dismissed his claims, and the appeals court affirmed this dismissal.

Deripaska made three arguments that the sanctions were unlawful. He first argued that the sanctions exceeded OFAC’s statutory authority because they responded to a generalized “undeclared national emergency” concerning Russia’s “worldwide malign activities.” The court rejected this argument because it found no evidence that the government “acted for reasons other than those it provided.” Additionally, the court stated that neither of the 2014 executive orders required a showing of how the particular sanction related to the emergency.

Deripaska next argued that OFAC acted arbitrarily and capriciously, as the OFAC lacked authority to sanction him for conduct that happened before Executive Order 13661‘s effective date. In response, the court stated that the OFAC cited “substantial evidence” that Deripaska acted on behalf of Russian officials after the executive order was issued. The court also rejected Deripaska’s final argument that OFAC acted arbitrarily and capriciously by sanctioning him under Executive Order 13662 but not sanctioning the energy companies that he operated.

Countries have also sanctioned Deripaska related to the current Russian invasion of Ukraine. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced new sanctions on March 7 against 10 individuals close to Russian leadership, including Deripaska, over the invasion of Ukraine. Similarly, Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Senator Marise Payne announced on March 18 that Australia had imposed financial and travel bans on Deripaska and Vekselberg.