Two Congressional Democrats have reportedly raised concerns about whether Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin's ties to a major shareholder in Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska’s companies played a role in the decision to lift sanctions. According to The New York Times, Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) and Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) both sent letters to Mnuchin on Tuesday about his connection to Len Blavatnik—an entertainment industry figure who also is a “major investor” in one of Deripaska’s companies, Rusal. Blavatnik and Mnuchin are reportedly connected through a 2017 acquisition between Blavatnik’s Access Industries and a company that had a deal involving Dune Entertainment—where Mnuchin served as chairman joining the Trump administration. Blavatnik reportedly founded SUAL Partners Limited with Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg, which is a major shareholder in Rusal.
Once U.S. sanctions against Deripaska’s companies were lifted, SUAL’s holdings in Rusal reportedly saw an $800 million value raise compared to last year’s numbers. Tony Sayegh, the Treasury Department’s assistant secretary for public affairs, told the Times Mnuchin had “no business relationship” and a conflict of interest assertion was “absurd.” Sayegh also said that Mnuchin and Blavatnik only knew each other “personally” through Blavatnik’s GOP donor activity while Mnuchin served in the Trump campaign.