July 20, 2018 / 11:53 PM / 5 months ago

Exclusive: U.S. open to lifting sanctions off aluminum giant Rusal - Mnuchin

FILE PHOTO: Aluminium ingots which were made at the Rusal Krasnoyarsk aluminium smelter are seen in this illustration taken May 25, 2018. REUTERS/Ilya Naymushin/File Photo

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - The U.S. Treasury is open to removing Russian aluminum producer Rusal from a U.S. sanctions list, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Friday, adding the objective was “not to put Rusal out of business.”

Mnuchin’s comment was the latest indication the Trump administration was trying to aid sanctions-hit Rusal, which has taken a series of steps to try to appease the U.S. government and get the restrictions lifted.

The U.S. Treasury in April imposed sanctions against billionaire Oleg Deripaska and the eight companies in which he is a large shareholder, including Rusal, in response to what it called “malign activities” by Russia. But the sanctions caused havoc in the global aluminum market, prompting several countries and companies to successfully lobby Treasury for a softening of the terms on Rusal.

“The company has approached us on certain de-listing issues (from the Specially Designated Nationals List),” Mnuchin said in an interview with Reuters in São Paulo ahead of G20 finance meetings this weekend in Argentina.

“I’m not going to go into the exact specifics of what those proposals are and where we stand on them, but, yes, if we can find an acceptable solution, that is our objective,” Mnuchin said.

“Our objective is not to put Rusal out of business,” he added, acknowledging that Rusal was important to the global aluminum market.

Last month Rusal shareholders elected a new board of directors, dominated by independent directors and operational managers.

Deripaska and a team of his top managers stepped down from Rusal’s board of directors in May and are currently working on several options to reduce his control over the company.

Reporting by David Lawder; Writing by Yara Bayoumy; Editing by Mary Milliken and Chris Reese

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