July 26, 2018 / 3:01 PM / 10 months ago

Mnuchin cites 'productive' talks with Rusal to lift sanctions

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin speaks during a news conference at the G20 Meeting of Finance Ministers in Buenos Aires, Argentina, July 22, 2018. REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Thursday said the United States was in productive talks with Russia’s United Company Rusal (0486.HK) to remove the world’s second biggest aluminum producer from a U.S. sanctions list.

The United States 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, the toughest since Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, roiled aluminum markets and were later watered down. The Treasury Department has since warmed to the idea of removing Rusal from the list altogether.

Mnuchin, speaking to reporters at the White House, declined to say how soon Rusal’s sanctions could be lifted.

“The intent was to change the behavior of the oligarch,” he said. “We weren’t looking to put sanctions on aluminum companies and I think we’re in productive discussions with the company to resolve those issues.”

Rusal shares on the Moscow exchange (RUAL.MM) remained depressed, slipping 1.6 percent on the day.

Reporting by Susan Heavey in Washington and Polina Ivanova in Moscow; Editing by Bill Trott

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