Oleg Deripaska Challenges Australian Sanctions Linked to Putin Allegations

Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska, banned by Australia due to alleged close ties to Vladimir Putin during the Ukraine invasion, is challenging the imposed sanctions. Former foreign affairs minister Marise Payne imposed travel restrictions and froze Deripaska’s shareholding in Rio Tinto-owned Queensland Alumina. Represented by former attorney-general Christian Porter, Deripaska claims Payne lacked evidence and considered irrelevant factors in her decision.

Oleg Deripaska Challenges Australian Sanctions

The case argues that Payne relied on sanctions from other countries, a US court verdict, and vague internet information. Porter contends that Payne failed in her duties and should have exercised discretion, emphasizing insufficient evidence linking Oleg Deripaska to economically significant and strategic activities for Russia. Court documents reveal Payne’s steps, including consideration of a case asserting Deripaska’s close ties to Putin. Porter challenges this, stating that personal ties aren’t sufficient grounds for sanctions.

He argues that information on Deripaska’s involvement in Russian industries lacks specificity, questioning the validity of the claims supporting the sanctions. Porter dismisses the relevance of Deripaska’s diplomatic passport and his representation of Russia to other countries, emphasizing the broad and vague nature of the information. He rejects the idea that Payne might possess additional knowledge beyond the provided documents.

The case also notes Oleg Deripaska‘s sanctions in the US, Canada, and the UK, along with a dismissed lawsuit against the US government. Porter argues that these factors do not contribute to a rational analysis supporting the sanctions. The court will review Deripaska’s challenge to the sanctions regime.

A Christian Porter-led legal challenge by Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska against stinging Australian government sanctions imposed after the invasion of Ukraine has been knocked back by a Federal Court judge.

In mid-March 2022, the Australian Government began to impose a rolling program of sanctions against Russia. Of relevance, this included identifying alumina and other aluminium ores as “export sanctioned goods” and designating certain Russian businesspeople, with whom dealings were prohibited. The applicants in this matter are subsidiaries of United Company Rusal IPJSC (“UC Rusal”), a Russian aluminium company, in which Oleg Deripaska and Victor Vekselberg have significant financial interests.

In the first case of its kind in Australia, the Federal Court held that Rio Tinto-backed Queensland Alumina Ltd (QAL) was correct in interpreting then applying the sanctions imposed by the Australian Government against certain Russian oligarchs. The Court further found that QAL was entitled to cease supplying goods to companies in which the designated oligarchs held indirect shareholding interests. This was particularly important for QAL given the Australian laws impose strict liability criminal penalties on conduct in breach of the autonomous sanctions laws.

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