WASHINGTON May 11 (Reuters) - The United States revoked an
entry visa last July of Oleg Deripaska, a Russian billionaire
at the heart of a possible bid for DaimlerChrysler
AG'sDCXGn.DE Chrysler Group, a State Department official said
The official, who asked not to be named, declined to state
reasons for canceling the visa issued two years ago to
Deripaska, who at 39 is reported to be Russia's second-richest
The U.S. government may review foreign bids for ownership
of U.S. companies for a number of reasons, including possible
national security implications.
The Wall Street Journal has tied the entry ban to what it
called concerns that Deripaska may have ties to organized crime
in Russia, citing unnamed U.S. law enforcement officials.
The newspaper also reported on Friday the entry ban was
tied to the veracity of his statements on the matter to the
Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Stephen Kodak, an FBI spokesman, said he could neither
confirm nor deny any contacts with Deripaska, in accordance
with long-standing FBI policy.
Gonzo Gallegos, a State Department spokesman, said the
department would not be issuing a formal statement on the
Deripaska received a U.S. multi-entry visa in 2005, the
department official said. Lobbying on his behalf had been done
by former Senate Republican leader and 1996 presidential
candidate Bob Dole and his Alston & Bird law partners, Senate
Alston & Bird was paid about $260,000 in 2005 for work on
"Department of State visa policies and procedures" tied to
Deripaska, according to disclosure forms.
Jonathan Winer, a Dole colleague who filed the disclosures,
did not reply to repeated requests for comment on the visa
A company controlled by Deripaska, Basic Element, plans to
buy a $1.54 billion stake in Magna International Inc. MGa.TO,
a diversified Canadian auto supplier, Magna said Thursday.
Magna has teamed with Onex Corp. (OCX.TO), a Canadian
buyout firm, to make a bid for Chrysler Group.
Deripaska's pending cash infusion into Magna could help
fund such a bid. Analysts have called Magna the leading
Chrysler, which once built tanks and tank engines, is no
longer a big U.S. defense contractor. In a research program
partly funded by the Pentagon that was begun in 2001 and is
just wrapping up, Chrysler worked on a diesel-electric hybrid
pickup truck that could supply power to troops in the field,
said David Elshoff, a Chrysler spokesman in Auburn Hills,
Most deals submitted to the inter-agency Committee on
Foreign Investment in the United States are approved without
difficulty. But furors have erupted in recent years over the
proposed acquisition of Unocal by the China National Offshore
Oil Corp. and Dubai Ports World's acquisition of management
rights at a number of U.S. ports from Britain's P&O.
Chrysler, which has 25 plants in the United States,
announced plans on Feb. 14 to cut 13,000 jobs amid industry
projections of a flat or slightly weaker market this year
compared with 2006.
A Deripaska spokesman in Moscow, Konstantin Panin, did not
return a telephone call seeking comment. A call to a spokesman
for the Russian embassy also was not returned.
Deripaska was ranked Russia's second-richest man by Forbes
magazine, behind Roman Abramovich. Deripaska built much of his
estimated $16.8 billion fortune in aluminum, emerging from
Russia's "aluminum wars" of the 1990s with control of some of
the country's biggest smelters.
He also masterminded the consolidation of Russia's aluminum
sector, which was completed in March with the creation of
United Company RUSAL. That new company, in which Deripaska is
the majority owner, produces an eighth of the world's supply of
Deripaska -- appointed in 2004 by President Vladimir Putin
to represent Russia at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation
Business Advisory Council -- owns Russia's No. 2 automaker Gaz
(GAZA.RTS), maker of the Volga saloon and the Gazelle minivan.
DaimlerChrysler was created in 1998 through the merger of
Germany's Daimler-Benz AG and U.S.-based Chrysler Corp. Its
divisions include the Mercedes Car Group, Chrysler Group and
the Truck Group.