Rusal says CEO, top directors resign over US sanctions

Moscow (AFP) –


Russian aluminium giant Rusal announced Thursday that its chief executive and half of its board of directors had resigned to ensure the firm avoids US sanctions that targeted its founder Oleg Deripaska.

In a statement it said the resignations were part of "the efforts that have been made by the management of the group to protect the interests of the company and its shareholders since the OFAC sanctions were imposed" last month.

The US Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control announced fresh sanctions against Russia last month following the diplomatic crisis sparked by the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal.

The sanctions hit oligarchs close to President Vladimir Putin, including Deripaska, prompting the shares of the firm responsible for 7 percent of the world's aluminium production to tumble while the price of the metal soared.

Faced with turmoil on the market for a key industrial product, the US government then indicated the firm could avoid being caught up in the sanctions by cutting ties with Deripaska, one of the so-called Specially Designated Nationals targeted by the sanctions.

"In the case of the company ... the path for the United States to provide sanctions relief is through divestment and relinquishment of control of the company by any relevant SDN, including Mr Oleg Deripaska," said Rusal.

At the end of May, Deripaska's firms En+, Rusal and carmaker GAZ were removed from the US sanctions list while the businessman remained subject to the measures.

Deripaska subsequently announced he would cut management ties with Rusal and his holding company En+, and reduce his stakes to under 50 percent.

Earlier this month En+, the holding company through which Deripaska had control of 48 percent of Rusal, said he had resigned and that he was not seeking reappointment to the board of the aluminium giant.

Rusal said Thursday that chief executive Alexandra Bouriko had resigned, as had half of the board.

Two of the directors have management positions while the other five were non-independent members of the board who had been appointed by Deripaska.

Regarding the US sanctions, Rusal said it "remains of the same view that the impact may be materially adverse to the business and prospects of the group."